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Case rally continues tradition

In a tradition that has lasted over 50 years, candidatesgathered for the last political rally of the season Saturday atCase Grocery on California Road.

Mr. and Mrs. James Case have sponsored the rallies ever sinceshortly after opening their business – one of the oldest in LincolnCounty – in 1953. They said it’s a project they enjoy throwingthemselves into because not only is it a forum for politicalcandidates in the upcoming races to have one last say before votersgo to the polls, it is a chance for voters to decide for sure whichcandidate they want to back.

“It’s very important that the public get to know thecandidates,” said Mrs. Case, who said the elections this year areas important as they’ve ever been.

Through the years, though, every race has been important, theysaid.

Guitar player, country musician and local character Bennon Casehas been entertaining at the rallies since they began. Saturdaynight he entertained the crowd with several nostalgic songs inhonor of the lifespan of the event.

“I’m going to sing a few songs that were popular back in the50s, that I sang at the first rally they held out here,” he saidbefore launching into songs like “Hey Good-Lookin’,” by HankWilliams.

“Fifty years is a long time,” said Bennon Case. “And this is ahuge crowd. But they always have a big crowd.”

Both the Cases and Bennon Case said they had fond memoriesthrough the years of the rally, but some were bittersweet.

“Harold Luther Smith was our emcee until he died,” said JamesCase, referring to the late former superintendent of education andentertainer.

“He was like part of our family,” said Mrs. Case.

On Saturday, a crowd of 350-400 people gathered in the parkinglot to hear more than 40 candidates lay out their final plans forthe upcoming terms.

The candidates signed up on a first-come, first-served basis andset up their tents, trucks and trailers around the outskirts of theparking lot. California Road was parked bumper-to-bumper for asubstantial distance in both directions.

“We were afraid the heat might keep people away, but it turnedout good,” said Mr. Case.

One stipulation the Cases put on the candidates was that theywere to talk about themselves and their ideas, but to refrain fromdiscussing their opponents. For the most part, the candidates stuckto the guidelines.

While most people have already chosen their favorite candidatesin each race with only two weeks left, the Cases said the rallyoften helps them sew up any lingering questions they might haveabout the candidates. They said sometimes it even helps them figureout the answers to their own questions, but that they certainlywould never share their leanings in any of the races.

“We show no partiality to any particular candidate,” said Mrs.Case. “It’s very important to us that people make their owndecisions.”