39th Annual Pig Roast & Political Rally Returns To Lake Eva Center
by James Coulter
There are four things Sergio Ortiz loves: God, family, country, and pork. This congressional candidate was able to share his love of all four at the 39th Annual Pig Roast & Political Rally in Haines City last Friday.
Ortiz is currently running as a Republican for the U.S. House to represent Florida’s 9th Congressional District. As a real estate broker with 30 years of experience in the industry, he claims to have the business savviness to represent Florida small businesses.
“We need to get our country moving forward, because we are heading backwards with a lot of people in fear of what is going to happen to them in the future,” Ortiz said. “We need to open up the economy, open up the businesses, so that the people can go out there and provide for their families.”
He shared his pro-family, pro-business, pro-conservative views to potential voters during last week’s political rally and dinner. The only thing he loved more than speaking his mind was enjoying his fill of good food and better company.
“This is my second time,” he explained. “It is a wonderful event. I love the place. The food is great. The people are amazing. And I believe this is something worth doing. You get to meet people you don’t normally see every day.”
The Northeast Chamber of Commerce hosted its 49th Annual Pig Roast and Political Rally last Friday in Haines City. The annual dinner and political event hosted its welcome return at the Lake Eva Center, with last year’s event being hosted at Balmoral Resort due to pandemic restrictions.
The annual event served a barbecue dinner catered by John Michael Exquisite Weddings & Catering, with live entertainment performed by Red Hot Rooster. Attendees were able to meet and greet many local politicians and political candidates from local, state, and federal offices.
This year’s turnout was slightly smaller from previous years. This slight decline in attendance was most likely due to this year’s event being hosted during a year without a major election, and also due to the recent spike in COVID-19 rates, explained Olivia Moorehead, Media and Community Relations Coordinator for the Northeast Chamber.
“Some people may not be as comfortable attending, but we are still happy with everyone who showed up and we hope everyone has a great time,” she said.
Moorehead has been officially part of the Chamber for the past three years. She had previously volunteered during high school, and had worked part-time until recently. She enjoys being able to mingle with locals and chamber members alike during these major events, she said.
“I enjoy most that it is a social time, but it is more than that,” she said. “People get to be informed about the candidates running for office and being able to advocate for them. Overall, it is a great time for all of our members to come together and enjoy the night.”
Darren Soto, the Democratic U.S. Representative for Florida’s 9th District, was one of the many politicians who attended that evening’s event to mingle with his constituents and discuss his politics. He focused primarily on hot button issues like jobs and infrastructure. Most importantly, he discussed the measures needed to address the ongoing pandemic.
“Right now, it is all about trying to combat COVID, and getting relief to small businesses, and getting better infrastructure to the county,” he said. “It is nice to be able to reach out to small businesses and see how we can help.”
Soto has been attending the annual political dinner ever since his first campaign for the state senate in 2012. Being able to speak with his supporters is his favorite part of the evening. His second favorite part? Being able to enjoy good old-fashioned barbecue.
“We enjoy the food, mixing with folks in a very laid back, very Polk County manner, and so it is excited to be able to be here,” he said.