Yesterday my parents and sister and I went up to Wytheville for Rick Boucher's "Acres of Democrats" picnic.
When we got there (20 minutes late, but thats how we always are), the first thing I noticed was how many people were there. It was the first one I had been to, so I didn't know how many would show up, but I was impressed.
I was also impressed by No Speed Limit, the bluegrass band playing before the speeches. The lead singer was a very pretty girl, and I couldn't help myself but go down and try to talk to her at their CD stand after the speeches.
No luck getting a phone number.
Aside from that unluckiness, I enjoyed the Bar-B-Q that they served, and ended up talking to Rex McCarty next to a trash can about high school football.
I really enjoyed the speeches. Creigh Deeds fired the crowd up with a short but effective speech. I had talked to him about ten minutes before the speeches started, and he told me the same story about Congressman Pat Jennings that he told once he got on stage. Leslie Byrne gave a short speech on what she brought to the ticket, concluding with a story about a girl scout asking "Can boys be in government too?" to which she replied that boys and girls can be in government.
Phillip Puckett was kind of like a workhorse. He was up and down and introducing everybody, and doing a good job of it. One of my favorite moments was during Puckett's 2nd or 3rd time up, he says "I can see Governor Warner is coming down the sidewalk now," (or something similar to that), and asked we all welcome the Governor to Wytheville. Just about the time he said it, Mark Warner starts jogging down the row of people, high-fiving and shaking hands with a Bill Clinton persona to him. He made a bounding step up onto the stage and was ready to go. But not quite yet. Benny Keister, Eric Ferguson, Rex McCarty, John Edwards (who does look different on television...), and Rick Boucher spoke first.
I enjoyed Rick Boucher's speech. He's the dean of Virginia's democratic party, and is certainly loved by Southwest Virginia. I would like to see him be more high-profile in Washington, though. Perhaps he should try to move into the leadership if Robert Menendez is appointed to the Senate?
Mark Warner spoke after Boucher. He really fired the crowd up, and at least looked like he was getting ready for 2008 (As an aside, Phillip Puckett made mention of it from stage, as did I when I met him. He seemed to acknowledge he's running without saying it both times). He offered thanks to Southwest Virginia, citing the fact that he likely couldn't have been elected in 2001 without the area behind him.
Tim Kaine was the big finish. He talked about going to a Baptist church in Bristol (I was curious as to which church he went to. I found a lady who seemed to know what she was talking about, who said he first went to the early morning mass at Saint Anne's Catholic Church [confirmed by a person I know who goes there], and then went to Dr. W.A. Johnson's Lee Street Baptist Church in the Kingtown area of Bristol. Rev. Johnson is a close family friend of my parents, so that's kind of neat). He talked about how important voter turnout would be, and how important Southwest Virginia will be. He also made mention that both he and Russ Potts had accepted debates at UVa-Wise (Kilgore's alma mater) and in Gate City (Kilgore's hometown). Everybody got some good chuckles out of the fact that Kilgore won't even debate on home turf.
After everyone spoke, I decided it was picture time. With my dad at my side, with a five dollar disposable camera from Wal-Mart, we headed toward the stage. I had already met and had my picture taken with Leslie Byrne and Creigh Deeds, so I decided to see who else would pose for a quick picture.
We walked up to Tim Kaine first. He remembered my name (I lost my name tag somewhere), and called my high school by name, too. Well, that was neat. He was happy to get a picture, and I wished him luck in November, and made my way toward Rick Boucher.
I never realized how nice a guy Rick Boucher is. He was happy to get a picture with me, and we talked about stem cell research (I'm a diabetic) and agriculture (from a long line of farmers) for a few minutes. My dad called him Rick and and acted like he had known him for years. Just an all around nice guy.
The last person I was hoping to get a picture with, Mark Warner, was standing about ten feet from me, down in the grass. We went down there, and waited about five or so minutes. Similar to how I never realized how nice Boucher was, I never knew how tall Mark Warner is. I'm 6'4", and he is at least as tall as I am, but looked taller, since he's fairly skinny (whereas I'm...not). He was extremely friendly, posed for a picture, then talked a minute or two about how George Bush had screwed America up ("It's a pretty big mess.").
My Dad and I then made our way toward the exit, where we found my Mom and sister talking to Phillip Puckett (a family friend from back when he was in elementary school with my late aunt). He had found them a big sign for my uncle's yard, which is positioned in a nice, high visibility area between Hansonville and Castlewood.
Overall, I had a really great time. So did my family. I'm looking forward to the 2006 picnic.
We got a whole bunch of pictures, of which I'll post a few (along with the pictures from the Highlands Festival with Russ Potts from August) when I get them developed.
Okay, no big Chief Justice coverage from me. Bush has nominated John Roberts to be Chief Justice, rather than just Associate Justice.
But never fear, I'll be covering later tonight potential nominees to replace Sandra Day O'Connor!