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 week of 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 bipartisan so did the Shad Planking, and in recent years all parties, including the Libertarian Party, have had a significant 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 businesses through the Presidential Straw Poll and People’s Choice Award for the best wine in the Commonwealth. Buy tickets now and make sure your voice is heard.