Terry Harris/Sussex-Surry Dispatch

Ruritan Club members serve Barbecue, Shad, and all the fixings during the 2018 BASH, formerly known as the Shad Planking.

Last year a traditional Wakefield rite of spring underwent a rejuvenation when the Ruritan Club’s Shad Planking became The BASH. (Barbecue and Shad Homecoming.) The result was a banquet for the senses with the sounds of great music and laughter, the smells of smoke from fires cooing shad, and the taste of the barbecue and fish as friends and neighbors of all ages enjoyed eating, dancing, and mingling while children frolicked under the trees.

As always at the event, many seeking or already in political office were on hand to meet people in their districts from all over Southside Virginia.

This year, as the Club celebrates its 90th Anniversary with the 2019 BASH on April 20, the event will be even better, according to BASH Co-Chair Buster Haywood.

“Our event last year was changed to the BASH, but what hasn’t changed is 90 continuous years of serving our community,” Haywood said. “The Wakefield Ruritan Club is the second oldest Ruritan club in Ruritan, and we’re very proud of that. But we had to change the event. It had dwindled to the point that the money just wasn’t there any longer to fund and serve the community – which is what we’re here for. And last year as The BASH we had a tremendously successful event. For the first time in several years we were able to make significant contributions not only to our Wakefield community efforts, but also to the fire and rescue departments in our neighboring Waverly and Ivor also as well as the many children’s programs and the Airfield 4H Center.”

“And both adults and kids had a good time - and a good meal,” he added. “Of course, the shad cooked over an open fire and served on planks - that’s the history. We just added barbecue and made it more of a family affair. This year we will have shad and roe along with our famous barbecue that everyone enjoyed so much last year, along with various adult beverages. We’ll also have free hot dogs and popcorn for the children. We’ve really got it going on this year, because it was a real hit with people.”

The positive sentiment was enthusiastically echoed by folks who attended last year’s BASH, such as Alan Jenkins of Waverly.

“My wife and I took our three kids and we all had a wonderful time, “ Jenkins said. “We’re rural folks around here, so when you get a bunch of folks together to meet and talk and mingle and meet new people it’s a great thing. The Shad Planking was pretty much only an adult thing, and it felt like there were more men than women. With the BASH, alcohol still was served, but the kids have their own fun things to do – like this year there’s a bouncy house, petting zoo, display by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, sports, throws, and to top it off, the Ruritans give the money back to the community. It’s a great thing!”

“It’s a great way to spend the afternoon with all the elements that make our community really special,” added Wakefield native Frances Chambers. “You still get to see friends, long time acquaintances, and it’s great now that everybody’s welcome no matter whether someone’s retired and wants to have a fun day in country or a 21 year old wanting to have a good time or a 10 year old wanting to come have fun. Even small children can play while their parents enjoy listening to music and telling stories about the old days, and the food is great. It’s a really inexpensive day for what you get. And it’s safe. Your kids can run around and play and not worry about what’s happening to them. I would just urge people to get their tickets early and support it.”

Smiling about local reactions, Haywood said, “We’re even starting the event off with an Easter Egg Hunt, plus a variety of music. We’re providing the top shelf “County Seat Band” performing bluegrass at 3:30. Then LOL, the rock band from last year will perform. We’re trying to reach out to all ages. My goal was to bring this together as a community event, with families and children and to bring neighboring towns in our tri- county area – Southampton, Sussex and Surry – together. This year we’ve got Wakefield, Waverly and Ivor fire departments involved. I feel truly overwhelmed and so happy with the community support.

“We’ll have state agencies there along with the Sussex county Sheriff’s Department. We’re so proud to have Ernest Giles as our sheriff, and we support local agencies, first responders, law enforcement. It’s really overwhelming. We’re pretty much out of booth space, but anyone can contacts us if they want to be a sponsor. Now we need the public to purchase tickets and come out and support this community effort – and have fun doing it. We’re bringing back what seems to be lost in today’s world – community and personal engagement you can’t get from a cell phone.”

The 2019 Wakefield Ruritan Club B.A.S.H. will be held rain or shine on April 20 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 12205 Brittle’s Mill Rd. in Wakefield. All-inclusive tickets are available at Wakefield Farm Service, Ivor Furniture, Haywood Financial, or from any Ruritan as well as online at wakefieldruritans.com or through Wakefield Ruritan BASH on facebook. Prices are $30 for 21 and above, $20 under 21, and all children under 10 get in free. Lawn chairs are welcome but no coolers will be allowed.

For more information call (757) 899-3222.