Crackerbarrels show good, bad of politics

We want to thank everyone who attended our crackerbarrel last Saturday at Custer Senior Center. Boy, what a crowd we had! That was by far and away the largest turnout we have ever had for one of our crackerbarrels. If we are going to get those sized crowds every time, we are going to have to look at changing venues. I think we had every seat in the house full, with overflow to the back room and even up on the stairs. Thanks again to Jodi and the senior center board for allowing us to use their facility.
The challenge with such a large crowd is that it can get unruly, particularly when it comes to politics. People are passionate (sometimes overly so, in our opinion) about some issues and politics in general, and that can lead to the boorish behavior that we see so often at the national level. Unfortunately, that behavior is trickling down to local venues as well. That wasn’t the case in Custer, however, as the attendees followed the rules and were well behaved. For that, we thank you. It is possible to get your point across without being a jerk. We accomplished that in Custer.
From the sounds of things the crackerbarrel hosted by our sister paper, the Hill City Prevailer News, did not go quite as smoothly. It didn’t have the same format as the one in Custer (when your number is drawn you, and only you, have the floor), and apparently a few people were less than polite and overbearing. That’s a shame, because acting like that does nothing to draw people to support you. In fact, it has the exact opposite effect. We will work on tightening up that format for next year.
The ugly side of politics also reared its head at the end of the Custer crackerbarrel when there was an alleged assault that took place as people were leaving. To be sure, we do not condone any kind of violence at our crackerbarrels, or any crackerbarrels for that matter. There is absolutely no reason to put your hands on someone in this type of venue. When the full sheriff’s office report comes out on this incident we will work with local law enforcement to see if there was anything we could have done to prevent this. Unfortunately, it sounds like it was just two people who don’t like each other, or perhaps one didn’t like what the other was doing, and it escalated from there. The crackerbarrel was over, and we were helping clean up to get the senior center back in order.
Moderating one of these events is not easy. The bigger the crowd, the harder it is to keep things orderly. We will continue to host them as long as the crowds continue to behave. When it devolves into a circus, it’s no longer worth it. We trust we will never have to deal with it getting to that point.

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