The more than four hundred people who attended the annual Williamson County Republican Party BBQ in Thompson’s Station on Saturday proved once again that Republicans know how to have fun.
The record-setting crowd at the event showcased an organizational tour de force for Williamson County Chairman Debbie Deaver, Vice Chairman Stephen Siao, and host and owner of Little Creek Farms Bob Beck, a sign that the grassroots in Williamson County is alive and well and ready for political action.
Featured speakers and gubernatorial candidates Bill Lee and State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) offered two different visions of the future of Tennessee under their leadership in brief talks that captured the attention of a very engaged audience ready for the 2018 political season to begin.
Lee won the gubernatorial straw poll, and Beavers finished second, but the event was about fun, food, and entertainment as much as it was about politics.
A key theme of the day was the importance of political engagement, which both Chairman Deaver and Vice Chairman Siao emphasized in their talks.
Deaver noted that in the past several years, the highest number of new arrivals to Williamson County are coming from the states of California and Florida. These new arrivals, she said, should be identified and encouraged to participate in local Republican political events and campaigns.
That engagement from long time and new residents of Williamson County was on display at the BBQ, as plenty of volunteers of all ages helped pass out information, provide refreshments, and administer the straw poll, which consisted of attendees placing gumballs in jars that displayed the names of each of the five announced or expected gubernatorial candidates.
One announced gubernatorial candidate–Randy Boyd–and two unannounced candidates (at the time)–Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06) missed the festivities.
Less than 24 hours after the Williamson County event, Speaker Harwell announced that she was a candidate for governor.
But the attendees seem unbothered by the lack of attention from three announced or expected gubernatorial candidates who were not there.
In addition to Beavers and Lee, State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) addressed the crowd.
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden was also in attendance.
But the majority of the time at the gathering was not taken up by speeches. Instead, it was food and fun.
The barbecue, provided by Famous Dave’s Barbecue, was plentiful and delicious.
The desserts, which included plenty of cookies and Bill Lee branded pies, were mouth-watering.
Republicans from age eight to eighty joined in the festivities.
But for many, the highlight of the evening was the musical entertainment provided by State Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and his band, which first formed years ago in college and more than 20 years later keeps on playing.