Fall election season makes for a boisterous time on Dane County Farmers' Market mornings, what with the profusion of campaign tables, button vendors, and all-around lively electioneering atmosphere on all four sides of the Capitol Square. The party will run late this weekend, though, when bands, comedians, and politicos get together to Barack the Block for Obama on the 100 block of East Mifflin Street on Saturday.
This all-day block party was organized to build awareness and support to the Obama/Biden presidential ticket with barely two weeks remaining before Election Day. "Our objectives are to raise awareness about voting, provide information about the issues, and fundraise for Obama," says local copywriter Brenda Bonds, one of three organizers who put the party together.
Acting without the prompting of or backing from the Obama campaign, and inspired by the Democratic National Convention back in August, this trio of local marketing professionals pulled together this presidential festival.
Getting started at 11 a.m. while the farmers' market is still going strong, Barack the Block features a busy slate of entertainment Four local music acts will provide the backbone of the party, the schedule starting with Dick the Bruiser at 11:30 a.m., and followed by Rob Dz at 12:50 p.m., Tony Brown at 2:40 p.m., and the Bob Westfall Band at 4:15 p.m. Interspersed between their sets will be stand-up by Mark Kump, Adam Waldron, Chris Waelti, and Mike Schmidt. The entire event will be emceed by producer and television host John Urban.
As Barack the Block is first and foremost a political rally, it will also feature stump speeches from several elected officials from Madison. Confirmed speakers include U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, State Rep. Mark Pocan, and others. Organizers will be focused on the election through the day, and will providing a table of laptops to recruit volunteers and encourage campaign contributions.
Monona supporters of Obama will be holding their own rally on Saturday, too, with State Sen. Mark Miller and former State Rep. and local activist icon Midge Miller speaking at the Winnequah Dream Park Shelter. Meanwhile, Middleton High School will play host to a youth-organized shindig featuring more music, comedy, and speechifying.
Though these kinds of events are expected around Madison, the block party and these other rallies are yet another sign of the robust, visible support for Barack Obama that's well-nigh ubiquitous in these final weeks of the campaign. "We put this together because we didn't want to feel powerless," says Bonds. "We wanted to feel like we were getting involved and doing something."
Free and open to the public, Barack the Block runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m .on Saturday, October 18, with sunny conditions and seasonable temperatures forecast through the day.