The Details About the 68th Shad Planking and Grapes & Grains Festival

Shad Planking Event Details


12205 Brittles Mill Rd., Wakefield, VA 23888


Friday, April 22, 2016, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

What does it cost?

Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the gate.

What do I get with my ticket?

A tasting glass for samples from Virginia’s best wineries and distilleries, live music, political speeches, arts, crafts, social causes, outreach programs, and Virginia’s best and brightest citizens.

In one sentence, what is the 68th Shad Planking and Grapes & Grains Festival?

The perfect marriage of a political rally and a wine & whiskey festival.

Who will be there?

Political figures, wineries, distilleries, VA arts and crafts, non-profits, social causes, outreach organizations, and 1000s of people like you.

Where do I park?

Parking is available on site.  Overflow parking is in walking distance, and we will have shuttle service as well.

How many people attend?

In past years, the Shad Planking has attracted up to 4,000 people.  We expect about 20 wineries and distilleries and 60 vendors and exhibitors.

What if I’m not a partisan person, or what if I’m not into politics?

The Shad Planking exists beyond any political or partisan concepts. It doesn’t matter what your political beliefs are, or even if you have any.  We guarantee you will find something or someone amazing at this event.

Is this event for charity?

Yes, proceeds for this event go directly to helping the good citizens of Wakefield, Virginia, and the surrounding rural area.

Who is running this event?

This event is hosted by the Wakefield Ruritan Club, a wise and compassionate 501(c)(4) organization that creates a better Virginia through “Fellowship, Goodwill and Community Service.”  While you have a great time at the event, you can know in your heart that you are also directly helping the citizens of the region.

Can I bring my children?

This event is intended for adults 21 and up.

Can I bring my dog?

We love dogs, but please leave them at home.

Learn more about the Shad Planking.

It all started in Smithfield, Virginia, in the 1930s.

A small gathering of friends used to celebrate the start of fishing season by catching shad.  These friends would take the oily, bony fish and smoke it on wooden planks over an open flame.  As they sat around the fire they talked about the things that were important to them: love, life, and politics.  


Soon the small gathering became a large one. The Wakefield Ruritan Club began hosting the event in Sussex County, Virginia, about an hour west of Virginia Beach. It is held on the third Wednesday in April each year. For decades the Ruritans have worked to make America beautiful through charity and scholarship.


Eventually the event that marked the beginning of the fishing season evolved into a festival of delicious food, political speeches, and speculation about the likely winners and losers of the upcoming campaign season. In its early years, Democratic Party bosses used the Shad Planking as an opportunity to select the next governor. However, as Virginia became more Republican so did the Shad Planking, and in recent years all parties, including the Libertarian Party, have had a signifigant presence.  Powerful and influential politicians have addressed the Shad Planking throughout its storied past.


In 2016 the Shad Planking completes another monumental evolution with the addition of the Grapes & Grains festival.  Wineries, vineyards, and distilleries from all over the state will come in order to let Virginians taste the fruits of their labors.  Local artisans and business owners will exhibit their goods, services, and art.  The 68th Shad Planking is guaranteed to have something perfect for everyone.


There is no festival anywhere in the world that compares to the 68th Shad Planking.  Festival goers will be able to wield their influence directly with politicians and business through the Presidential Straw Poll and People's Choice Award for the best wine in the Commonwealth.


The World Has a Lot to Say About the Shad Planking


Every year the Shad Planking makes national news.  Scores of influential people from politicians to journalists to radio and tv personalities have let their thoughts about the historical event to be known.