Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Politics In North Florida
by James Glaser
April 17, 2009

I moved to Tallahassee from a small town (Northome) in Northern Minnesota. In Northern Minnesota, politics are simple, the Democrats are in charge. I have heard it said, "I would vote for the Devil himself, if he were a Democrat." I have heard it also said, "He is."

Also in Northern Minnesota, Democrats are the biggest part of the Religious Right. If you are not pro-life up there, you are not going to be elected. Sure there are pro-choice people up there, too, but they are the minority.

So, when I moved down to Tallahassee, politics were all topsy turvy. Not only are the there two pretty equal parties, but pro-choice and pro-life are well defined by the party you belong to. Down here it is the Republicans who are the "life" people, while the Democrats represent the "choice" people. Sure there are people in both parties who believe the opposite, but they are a small faction in each party.

It was kind of strange for me to see a Republican Party that was really organized and was filled with young people. Back home the Republicans would poll about 20% and feel they had a good turn out. Down here I believe the Democrats have the edge in voters, but Republicans are not afraid to voice their preference, and get out and work for their candidate.

Also, like every place else in the country, both parties down here are not afraid to ask you for money, and once given, they will come back for more again and again and again.

I must say politics are a bit more fun down here in northern Florida, because both parties have a shot at winning if they put up a good candidate. Maybe the South was solid Democrat at one time, and lately solid Republican, but in North Florida the right man or woman can win any office they run for if they can impress the voters. Neither party controls the vote, and that is both refreshing and very American.

Art Festivals

Tallahassee is having a huge art festival this weekend in the park down town. It is called the Chain of Parks Art Festival, and it is put on by the LeMoyne Art Foundation. There will be about 125 artists setting up booths in the park, and each had to be juried in. This is a "fine arts" festival and the caliber of the art is high. Tomorrow afternoon I have volunteered to help do something. They didn't say what I would be doing, but they asked me to bring my truck. I'm thinking physical labor.

For LeMoyne to put this show on, a lot of people have to volunteer, and it is nice that in Tallahassee there are lots of people willing to give their time to something that benefits the whole community.

I don't do shows like this any more. First off, my wood pieces are heavy, and foul weather can cause a lot of damage. The artists who attend these shows have a fair amount of equipment, like pavilion tents with walls, and display stands. Their art work is made to travel without damage, and that requires a real investment in crates, and water proof containers made for each piece.

On Saturday Wanda and I will be "hosts" for the show. That means we will be walking around trying to aid the individual artists any way we can. If they are having trouble with their power source, we try and fix that or find someone who can. If they need a restroom break, we will watch their booth for them.

Like I said, this show is always filled with high quality art, and some crafts, but the focus is on fine arts. That makes it fun to walk around and see what other people are making. You can see new or at least different techniques. I always have a good time looking at the ways people invent to display their work.

This year it will be interesting to see what sales are like. You can find some very affordable work at this show, but much of the work is what I think of as "high buck." I am interested to see if the artists have lowered their prices to reflect what is going on in our national economy.

There is no doubt that art sales are down everywhere, and these artists have a lot of money invested in a show like this. There are travel costs, motel/hotel costs, their tents and display equipment, and then the cost of whatever art work they have created. If an artist at an outdoor show like this can have a few sales right off the bat, it makes the whole weekend a lot less stressful. Believe me, you can tell which artists are selling, just by the smile on their face.

The weather forecast shows highs in the 70's and lows in the 50's, with sun. That is about as perfect as it can get. I think it will be a great weekend for the arts in Tallahassee.

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