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Friends of Pickett Picnic Between Raindrops

Hosts Diane and Tom Elliott flank Silvara's Bill Eberhardt, one of 300 people who showed up at their farm and their annual Friends of Tina Pickett Barbecue. Photos by Wes Skillings

When Tina Pickett's friends throw a picnic, they don't spare the effort and expense. On Saturday afternoon, braving a pair of downpours an hour and a half apart, some 300 people came to the Tom and Diane Elliott farm in Rome Township a few miles above Lake Wesauking to lend their presence, financially and physically, to the state representative from the 110th District.

"It's only liquid sunshine," Roger Madigan told the gathering, putting a positive spin on a stormy day. Andy Boardman, who once again provided music for the third annual "Friends of Tina Pickett" barbecue, opened the festivities with "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" just to prove spirits hadn't been dampened.

It may have been Rep. Pickett's event, but, in many ways, it was a pep rally for Republican candidates, starting at the top with the Bush-Cheney ticket. There were also some big guns in attendance from both Washington and Harrisburg. Congressman Don Sherwood and his right-hand man, Jerry Morgan, were there for the nation's capital, with Sherwood leading the call for "four more years" for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the White House. Madigan, along with Pickett herself, provided the Harrisburg presence.

Attending for the second straight year was former Pennsylvania Gov. William Scranton, Jr., who offered a not-so-daring election-day prediction: "George Bush will win Bradford County by a landslide."

Bradford County has more than twice as many Republican voters as Democrats and almost always supports GOP presidential and gubernatorial candidates by wide margins. With all the Republican faithful there, it may have been akin to preaching to the choir, but this choir was there to hear some preaching and talk one-on-one with Pickett and her guests. Matthew Brann, Chairman of the Bradford County Republican Committee, emceed the short program after being introduced by the host, Tom Elliott.

It became clear from Brann's introductions that it wasn't just Bradford County being represented there. The Republican Commissioners from Bradford, Sullivan and Susquehanna Counties were there, as well as a number of elected county and municipal officials. There was even an elected official from another state—Marty Borko, Tioga County, NY, legislative chair. There was a country buffet dinner and ice cream served up throughout the afternoon by Bradford County Dairy Princess Rachel Herman, her alternate, Katie Feusner, and Sullivan County Dairy Princess Ashley Broschart.

"The annual event is meaningful to Tina as an opportunity to discuss constituent viewpoints on legislation affecting Pennsylvania and our area," said Diane Elliott, who, as husband, Tom, noted, spent many hours organizing and planning the event at the place Sherwood has dubbed "the million-dollar view."

"I guess the view isn't quite as good today," Tom Elliott quipped, referring to the dark clouds passing over and lack of sunshine. "I guess it's just worth about $500,000 today."

A heavy rain swept through near the start of the picnic at 1 p.m. and then, at about 2:30 p.m., another cloudburst sent everyone scurrying for cover under the tents and tarps on the grounds. But it was all over in 15 minutes and the program and music went on.

After it was over, the Elliotts, on behalf of Pickett, expressed their gratitude to all who made the event such a success, even with Mother Nature's lack of cooperation.

Meanwhile, it was Scranton who provided his gratitude to the Elliotts:

"I want to thank Diane for all the work and Tom for all the talk," he said with a grin.

Andy Boardman

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