Shortly after former Sen. George Allen gave the keynote speech at the 64th Annual Shad Planking, Chairman Robert W. Bain, told reporters he didn't think any Democratic candidates for statewide office were at the event.
“I wish the Democrats were here,” Bain said. “It would sell more tickets. We are non-partisan. We don’t endorse.” In recent years, the festival which Allen heralded as the "pre-eminent bi-partisan political event in Virginia" has had a more Republican-oriented feel, according to Christopher Newport University political scientist Quentin Kidd.
Allen kicked off his speech making a sports joke.
"With the 2nd pick in the NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins select," Allen said, before cutting himself off. "Oops that's my brother's speech," he said, referring to his brother Bruce Allen, general manager of the Washington Redskins. At the draft next week, the Redskins are expected to select the highly touted, Heisman trophy-winning quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
Allen drew loud cheers throughout his speech, especially when he said he would like to cast the deciding vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act Congress passed in 2010.
Event organizers estimated the crowd size at about 2,000 this year. The line for the festival's heralded smoked shad stayed long through much of the day. Attendees also were treated to corn muffins, baked beans, cole slaw, pickles and fried fish.