Stump speeches draw cheers in Buena Vista
Pleasant temperatures, sunny skies, and fog on the mountaintops offered a near-perfect backdrop for the 47th annual Buena Vista Labor Day festival. The parade along Magnolia Avenue (the town’s main street) featured the VMI pipe-and-drum corps, cheerleaders and a marching band from Parry McCluer High School (“Go Blue!”), Boy Scouts, fire engines, and what seemed to be the entire student body from Southern Virginia University (“Go Knights!”).
The parade also included local elected officials and candidates for public office. Marring the festivities was the absence of most Democrats. For the first time in nearly five decades, the LaborFest — which, like its counterpart in Wakefield, Shad Planking, started as a Democratic Party gathering — was boycotted by statewide Democratic candidates and elected officials. Only one Democratic candidate, for local commonwealth’s attorney, bothered to make a speech, and only one Democratic legislator, state Senator Creigh Deeds, marched in the parade.
Speeches on the top of the hill at Glen Maury Park were dominated by Republicans and independents, with one Libertarian, gubernatorial candidate Cliff Hyra, delivering a stump speech that was politely (and sometimes enthusiastically) received by a crowd whose heart was with his Republican rival, Ed Gillespie. Primitive black-and-white signs saying “#NoShowNortham” were raised alongside professionally produced yard signs for Hyra, Gillespie, and GOP ticket mates Jill Vogel (running for lieutenant governor) and John Adams (running for attorney general).
Here are videos of the short speeches — the emcee cautioned, with a smile, that their remarks must be limited to five minutes — from Ed Gillespie, Cliff Hyra, and Jill Vogel. (Audio interviews with Gillespie and Hyra and others can be heard here.)
Ed Gillespie, Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia:
Cliff Hyra, Libertarian nominee for Governor of Virginia:
Jill Vogel, Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia:
Finally, here are some highlights from the Labor Day parade, where you’ll hear (but not necessarily see) Delegate Ben Cline and Senator Creigh Deeds say hello to me as I held my camera on the sidewalk.