Democratic candidates coming to Galivants Ferry for biennial stump event

For nearly 140 years, Democratic candidates from across South Carolina have traveled to Galivants Ferry to deliver their stump speech directly to the voters.

The first documented speech was delivered when Gen. Wade Hampton rode up on horseback in 1876 during the S.C. governors race, said Russell Holliday. Since then her family has held the event every two years at Pee Dee Farms.

On Monday, about 15 Democratic candidates, including gubernatorial hopeful Vincent Sheheen and lieutenant governor candidate Bakari Sellers, will participate in the Galivants Ferry Stump, which also will feature remarks from Jimmy Williams, a commentator for MSNBC, and former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings.

Speakers will deliver their stump speeches from the porch of the general store from behind a podium a carved out cypress stump, Holliday said.

The event is unique, Holliday said, because it provides a rare chance for voters to have face-to-face time with candidates without having to pay for the opportunity.

“All of the other events you have to pay a large amount of money to get face time,” she said. “From the guy in the three-piece suit to the guy in the overalls, it’s a unique opportunity for people to really get to know the candidates.”

Democratic candidates for local, state and national seats in this year’s elections will speak at the stump event, something Holliday said is almost expected of those who are running.

“The myth has always been that if you’re a Democrat and you don’t show up, you won’t win,” she said.

Sally Howard, who is helping organize the event, said she’s expecting about 1,000 voters to show up at Pee Dee Farms in Galivants Ferry.

“The tradition has always been that it was a Democratic event and only Democrats were invited to speak,” Howard said. “ Lately Republican voters and politicians come as well.”

For about 30 years, Republicans have held their own stump with the Elephant Stampede. The event, traditionally held the weekend before the June primary, gives Republican candidates an opportunity to interact directly with their potential voters as well, said Johnnie Bellamy, who is helping organize the event.

“State candidates know that if they’re going to come Horry County they need to come to the stampede,” she said. “And [voters] come out because they know that this is their chance to meet the candidates.”

The Elephant Stampede is being held at 2 p.m. June 7 at the old Horry County Courthouse. Tickets cost $10.

Howard said the Galivants Ferry Stump will have a festival atmosphere with bluegrass music, clogging and a donkey to entertain children.

“It’s such an old tradition,” Howard said. “It’s the excitement of all of it. It keeps it going.”

The Galivants Ferry Stump begins at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Pee Dee Farms, 125 W. U.S. 501, Galivants Ferry.