Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Little Extra Effort - The Last County BBQ
- In The Primary Anyway

Today I anticipated it was going to be an exciting day, and it was. It started early as I got up in Colerain to do some computer work that I had to send out before I left home. It had been a late night as I had attended the Fred Smith BBQ in Dare County in the Outer Banks Monday. I then drove home around midnight. The Fred Smith team was still packing up when I left Dare County, so I am sure they got in to Ahoskie where they were going to stay quite late as well.

I had an early meeting in Ahoskie for a computer client. Then I headed up to the Tar Heel BBQ Restaurant in Gates County, one of the the last three BBQs in the Fred Smith 100 County BBQ Tour. As I was crossing the magnificent Chowan River I grabbed my camera and took a picture (below). It was a beautiful sight.

A few miles down the road I came to the site of the days first BBQ. It was easy to spot as the Fred Smith bus was parked right beside the road at the entrance to the parking lot. This whole effort has been a monumental effort. The fist BBQ was last year on August 2, 2007. This day the final 3 BBQs would complete the effort. This is not the way most candidates run for Governor. Fred Smith is an amazing man. Fred put in the incredible effort necessary to visit every single county in North Carolina and hold a BBQ so that anyone who wanted could meet him and ask him as many questions as they wanted to. Fred did this because he says running for governor OUGHT to be a conversation with the people. More than 15,000 people have come out to the BBQs to meet Fred.

The sign in front of the door (below) was about the campaign to stop the Navy from locating an OLF, or Outlying Landing Field, in the Sand Banks area behind the Tar Heel BBQ Restaurant where the event was being held.

As I went in the door I ran into Fred's Democrat shadow, a young man named Paul (shown below). Paul never eats Fred's BBQ (being the competition that would not be fair) so he was in the regular restaurant next door, waiting for the event to start. I am always amused that Democrats spend so much effort trying to find something they can attack Republicans with. The purpose of Paul's effort to tape everything Fred says is hope that Fred might say something the Democrats could use out of context to attack him with.

Fred's team for the BBQs, Joe Humphries and Deidre Jersey were already hard at work registering the attendees for the BBQ. They do a great job.

Deidre had promised that BBQ would be served at all the events, and though most people ordered breakfast this day, Diedre made sure they had the opportunity to eat BBQ. She is shown below offering it to everyone who wants it. Another one of the great team that has put on all these BBQs for Fred is Ira Jersey, Diedre's husband (shown on the lower right below). Ira does all the video and audio set up.

This morning Fred started the meeting off with a slightly different format, as he took the opportunity to let Gates County people explain the issues associated with the OLF, and ask questions, separate from the normal session.

After everyone had eaten, Fred stands at the back of the room waiting for the event to start.

John Hill, Gates County Republican Party Chairman, and Bryan Buck, local businessman, introduced the various speakers for the invocation, pledge of allegiance and national anthem. Bryan is shown here (above on left) next to Fred as the event is about to start.

The start of the event is always the introductory video that ends with the Lee Greenwood campaign song, "From good to great."

Fred gave his usual heartfelt talk. This day he was going to give it 3 times, as the last 3 BBQs were all in one day. After he had signed books for as long as people wanted to stick around, we headed out for a meeting with local pastors. Fred also had a meeting with some local business people after that. We left Gates County headed to Captain Bob's Restaurant in Perquimans County (Town of Hertford) pressed for time as usual.

Captain Bob's was not prepared for the size of the crowd that showed up. We had so much overflow we actually took up a room next door were people could not see Fred and could only hear. It was a huge crowd. Bobby Jones, Chairman of the Perquimans County Republican Party was master of ceremonies.

Fred once again gave his speech on why he was running and what he wanted to do as Governor.

Paul, our Democrat shadow was there in Perquimans County too.

Next stop was Pasquotank County High School for the last BBQ in the 100 County BBQ Tour. On the way, Fred did an interview, met with some business people, attended a meet and greet fundraiser at Albemarle Plantation, and rolled in to the Pasquotank County Reception late in the day.

First order of business was to meet the Mayor of Elizabeth City, Steve Atkinson, who came out to greet Fred.

Bill Blevins, Chairman of the Pasquotank County Republican Party (shown above) was master of ceremonies for the final event.

Frank Weeks (shown above) gave the invocation.

Alexis and Ashton Tice (shown above, Alexis on right) led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Randy Rowsey led the crowd in singing the Nation Anthem.

It was a huge crowd, over 100 people in attendance.

Diedre Jersey, had a surprise for Fred. They had a cake made up celebrating the completion of this huge effort to have a BBQ in all 100 counties in North Carolina. Though I can't be sure that no one has ever done this before, no one I can find has ever heard of it being done. Certainly it is not the norm. Many of the Counties Fred visited have rarely had a Gubernatorial candidate visit, much less spend time to allow local people to meet them, shake hands, and ask as many questions as they wanted to ask.

As usual the food was great. Typical fare is BBQ, fried chicken, slaw, pork and beans, potato salad, rolls, tea and desert. Tonight we had an extra desert, the cake to celebrate the completion of this huge effort.

Fred signed copies of his autobiography for all who wanted them, and shook everyone's hand. As usual Fred simply never stopped working all day long.

As the final event was about to start, Fred took his place at the back of the room waiting for the introduction.

This night, Holly Koerber, Vice Chair of the Pasquotank County Republican Party, a long time friend, introduced Fred.

Fred gave the BBQ version of his speech for Governor one last time. I wonder what it felt like for Fred to be finishing up this phase of the campaign?

I wonder how Paul, our Democrat shadow felt too? He was around for a great number of the events and everyone had come to know him pretty well.

He seemed quite sincere when he was one of the first people to come up and shake Fred's hand after the event. It seemed appropriate as Fred is one of the most genuine people I have ever met.

As I was walking out the door, I got a group picture of some friends; Doris Blevins, Diedre Jersey, Holly Koerber, Owen Etheridge and Harvey West.

Next phase of the campaign here in Eastern North Carolina starts March 31st with the Washington, NC Lee Greenwood Rally for Fred Smith. That is going to be huge. Lee really puts on a show. See you there.


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