Floyd Democrats Rally for Obama
The following was published in The Floyd Press on October 30, 2008 and at the FP online HERE.
A Democratic fundraising rally for the Barack Obama/Joe Biden presidential campaign was held at the Sun Hall on Friday night. “The 9th District could prove to play a pivotal role in the November Presidential Election,” said local musician Joel Vendetti, one of the organizers of the grassroots event.
Vendetti, who provided some of the evening’s entertainment and also MC’d, said the goal of the rally was to promote a kind and thoughtful Democratic presence in Floyd, one based on smart politics and not on divisiveness. “The idea is to educate people on the issues so that they can make informed choices on November 4th,” Vendetti said.
Local activist Deborah Baum worked with Vendetti, sending out rally mailings, organizing refreshments, signing up speakers and musical acts, and setting up the hall.
At the rally, which was free and open to the public, Baum sold Obama/Biden bumper stickers. Behind a booth decorated with red, white, and blue balloons, Floyd Democratic Party Chairperson Kim Chiapetto signed up volunteers to do door-to-door canvassing and to help at the polls on Election Day. Signs for Obama-Biden and Warner were prominent throughout the hall. Flowers donated by the Flower and Gift Shop adorned a long table full of food.
Folk singer Lee Pinkerson warmed up the crowd, playing Bob Dylan’s The Times They are A’Changing and other songs. She was followed by gospel singing from members of Floyd’s New Beginning Christian Church Choir. “What a great feeling to be participating in history,” choir member and New River Community Action Center’s (NRCA) director Tammy Lemons said. Later, the New Beginning group joined Grant Helms and members of The Little River Missionary Baptist Church Choir on stage for more gospel singing.
Local poet Mara Robbins spoke to the crowd about the education the presidential campaign has been providing for her eleven year old daughter, sharing their experiences hearing Obama speak at the October 17th rally in Roanoke. Robbins, who was joined on stage by her daughter, read a poem titled Poet for President and lead the crowd in rousing chant… Say ho! (Ho!) Say hey! (Hey!) … This is the thing we wanted to say … Say true! (True!) Say blue! (Blue!) … Virginia is ready for change that is new… Diplomacy, the Environment, Alternative Energy, Health Care, Education, and Woman’s Rights are some of the issues Robbins said she and her daughter felt hopeful that an Obama administration would address.
Another rally speaker, Vice Chair of the Floyd’s Democratic Party, Nolan Goad told the crowd to “Look around,” referring to the full hall. “Aren’t you proud to be in Floyd? Aren’t you proud to be a Democrat?” he asked. Goad pointed out that the last time Virginia voted Democrat was in 1964. “This year it can happen again,” he said, urging rally goers to canvas door to door, to talk to their neighbors, and to get out and vote.
At the height of the evening the 130 chairs, donated by Woods Funeral Home for the evening, were filled. Some rally goers stood against the back wall or mingled in the seating aisles. NRCA’s RSVP (Retired and Seniors Volunteer Program) director, Judy Weitzenfeld announced a November 4th fundraising dinner for the program’s transportation service at Floyd Elementary School from 4-7. The fundraiser will be important to maintaining RSVP transportation services, she said.
Mac and Jenny Traynham, fresh from the Friday Night Jamboree, provided some old time country tunes. Before performing a song titled “You Will Be My Closest Neighbor Up There,” Jenny Traynham said, “We like this song because it’s about loving each other and every one being your neighbor.” The duo was accompanied by Phil Woddail on harmonica.
Fiddle player Mike Mitchell, joined by Blue Moonshine band mate Phil Norman on guitar and Abe Gorsky on mandolin, closed the evening with harmonies set to some foot stomping instrumentation.
Diane Geissler, one of the foot stompers who stayed till the end of the rally, said she enjoyed all the performances, and especially enjoyed the interaction between the speakers and the crowd. Geissler said, “It really was a rally. We rallied around our patriotism.”
Baum said she was thrilled with the turnout and the contagious enthusiasm shown from people from all walks of life for Obama. “It’s amazing how many people called and showed up to help with the rally. We could not have done it without them,” she said.
Photos: 1. Kim Chiapetto. 2. Rally goers eating and socializing. 3. Grant Helms (at the mic) and the Little River Missionary are joined by members of the New Beginning Choir for some hand clapping gospel songs. 5. Poet Mara Robbins and her daughter. 6. Joel Vendetti (right) at the refreshment table with others. 7. Members of Blue Moonshine entertain the hall. Video clips: New Beginning Gospel Choir HERE and Mac and Jenny Traynham singing You'll Be My Closest Neighbor HERE.