An undeniable spirit of determination and optimism filled the air as Republicans in Haywood gathered for an evening of socializing, fundraising and networking last weekend.
The Haywood GOP’s annual Fall Fling, held at the Smoky Mountain Event Center on November 13, was not only a who’s who of local party circles, but it was also well received by newcomers – something that the party hopes to translate into a good performance at the polls in 2022.
“This is the largest assembly that I have attended in a long, long time. Looks good, ”said KG Watson, a party volunteer.
Watson was optimistic that the level of interest is a harbinger of next year’s election and that the energy could be harnessed when it counted.
“We’re going to be fine. We still do, ”Watson said.
“We are full of energy and very strong for the next year,” agreed party volunteer Ted Carr, during a break from managing the raffle board.
- This energy was evident when a lively and catchy chant of “Let’s Go Brandon” burst out. Although the phrase has a vulgar origin – to put it mildly for “FJoe Biden” – it has become a national rallying cry for conservatives, and the audience rocked the building chanting it in unison.
Kay Miller, President of the Haywood Republican Party, said the past year had been a wake-up call.
“People are paying attention and they realize that what we have in the White House right now is not what they want,” Miller said. “If we continue to follow the path we are taking now, they see us flying towards socialism. “
Like others, Miller was excited about what she called “fantastic” for the Fall Fling.
“We had so many new people and new faces and they all said they had a great time,” Miller said.
These new arrivals included Marla Wengyn.
“We wanted to support the party and meet other like-minded people,” said Wengyn, who decided to attend after receiving an invitation from neighbors. And she didn’t miss the opportunity to return home with baked goods from the Young Republicans table, either.
For Karen Markowitz, who recently moved to Haywood from Liberal stronghold in Minnesota, said it was invigorating to be surrounded by so many fellow Conservatives for a change.
“We don’t know a living soul. We just wanted to meet people, ”Markowitz said.
Markowitz admitted that the biggest draw for her – like many in the crowd – was the chance to see Congressman Madison Cawthorn as the keynote speaker. Cawthorn wasted no time in his first year in office honing his brand of anti-establishment rebel and openly aligning himself with the Trump wing of the party.
But Cawthorn’s days at Haywood GOP events may soon be numbered. He announced last week that he would run for another congressional district in the east.
“Awwww, noooooon,” said Markowitz, who hadn’t heard the news until that night.
The party was honored to have another very special guest at the Fall Fling: none other than Donald Trump going around and posing for photos. This was of course not the real Donald, but a larger-than-life severed head worn by John Wadsworth, a local party volunteer. Wadswoth first released the mask for Halloween in 2016.
“People were lining up for 100 meters to take pictures,” Wadsworth said, who lives in the Auburn Park hotspot in Waynesville.
Trump’s giant head circling the Fall Fling added to the jovial air of the evening.
Real candidates also made appearances at the event, including candidates for the WNC congressional seat vacated by Cawthorn, as well as a judicial candidate for the NC Court of Appeals, Michael Stading.