Arts & Culture

Inside the Wakefield Shad Planking

A generations-old spring cookout in Virginia
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The Wakefield Sportsmen’s Club, in Wakefield, Virginia.

Photo: Randy Harris

A freshly caught American shad.

Photo: Randy Harris

Wetting a line in the James River.

Photo: Randy Harris

The fire is lit before the six hours it takes to plank a shad.

Photo: Randy Harris

The Wakefield Shad Planking’s roots reach back to the early 1930s, when a group of men gathered to cook shad on wooden planks along the James River.

Photo: Randy Harris

Ernest Crockett with butterflied shad.

Photo: Randy Harris

Crockett carries fish to the fire.

Photo: Randy Harris

A row of planked shad during the smoking process.

Photo: Randy Harris

Tending to the fire.

Photo: Randy Harris

Prepping the shad.

Photo: Randy Harris

Mopping a planked shad.

Photo: Randy Harris

A planked shad.

Photo: Randy Harris

Crowds gather beneath the trees.

Photo: Randy Harris

A line forms at the Wakefield Shad Planking.

Photo: Randy Harris

Lunch is served.

Photo: Randy Harris

Attendees enjoy the food and fellowship.

Photo: Randy Harris

The James River.

Photo: Randy Harris