GALIVANTS FERRY — It’s a rare occurrence in these parts for Democrats to outnumber Republicans, but it’s the standard for the historical Galivants Ferry Stump now in its 140th year, where those of like political minds can spend the evening with kindred spirits.
Hundreds of political devotees gathered Monday by the Holliday farm near the bank of the Little Pee Dee River to meet dozens of politicians face-to-face.
From the local school board candidate to the U.S. Senate hopeful, all expressed their determination to kick Republicans out of office.
“It’s a good turnout considering the weather,” said Christy Holliday Douglas, a member of the Holliday family who has kept the rally a tradition for generations.
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The weather forecast warned of severe storms over Galivants Ferry during the rally, but held to only a drizzle that didn’t faze those who gathered under umbrellas or beneath the awning of the general store on U.S. 501.
“It was encouraging to have so many here, and I could feel the enthusiasm,” Douglas said.
Folks scooped up chicken bog and Doris Williamson’s cakes, watched tap dancers and enjoyed bluegrass music, and petted the Democratic Party mascot, a donkey named Andrew Jackson. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of New York, the keynote speaker, even apologized to the critter for having been replaced on the $20 bill.
They brought their children, their dogs, their patriotism, and their devotion to the Democratic Party.
Joyce Pounder of Carolina Forest said this was her first time attending the event, and was there to meet with the politicians to decide who to vote for come November.
“It’s awesome, it’s a part of Americana that I’ve never seen,” Pounder said.
“It’s exciting to see Democrats in South Carolina,” said the Queens, New York native.
He has atrocious manners. We need to make sure that kind of behavior is not acceptable.
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn
Pounder wanted to hear what the candidates had to say about environmental and animal rights issues, as well as local growth.
Elaine Cooper traveled all the way from Columbia to participate in the political glad-handing at the time-honored stump. She marveled at the Star Spangled Banner sung pitch-perfect and movingly by the Aynor High School ensemble and noted the importance of young people taking part in the political process.
“They sounded awesome,” Cooper said. “It’s always a wonderful thing to see young kids involved in politics, and hopefully they will be inspired to look to the history of this event.”
The tradition of the event goes back to the stump speech delivered by former Confederate General Wade Hampton when he launched his gubernatorial bid in 1876. The tree stump upon which politicians stood has long since been replaced by a stage.
The Holliday family has kept the tradition going through five generations, and Douglas said they plan to pass it on to a sixth generation, which includes her grandchildren.
The event was attended by all of the Democrats running for the Horry County Council, and school board, most of the state House candidates and Senate candidates, congressional and U.S. Senate candidates.
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn was late to the event, trapped by a passing storm at the airport, but roused the crowd with a critical speech on GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
“He has atrocious manners,” Clyburn said. “We need to make sure that kind of behavior is not acceptable.”
Crowley focused his criticism on the Republican Party as a whole.
“They have no vision, no notion about tomorrow, it’s all about yesterday,” Crowley said.
Ryan Waller, who is running for the 57th district state House seat, said he’s been coming to Galavants Ferry since he was a child, brought by his father, Johnny Waller, who also served in the state House, Senate and South Carolina Supreme Court.
“It’s all a blur about who I actually saw and who I’ve just heard stories about,” he said, when asked who his favorite speaker has been over the years.