11/17/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Organizers for an NC Festival Featuring Conservative Speakers Assure the Event Is Not Political

A controversy is brewing in the little town of Wilmington, NC. It involves an event to take the main stage on Saturday, October 3, from 11 to 2 during the very popular Wilmington Riverfest, which draws thousands from near and far. It is being called "I Love America Rally 2009."

One local resident has voiced her concern with the lineup of the event to the local newspaper, Star News. Louise Horne, who lives in downtown, recalls never having seen something so political in her years of living there. "If it's straight patriotic it's fine, (but) to me, it sounded a little Tea Party-ish," she told the reporter.

Her concern lies with the featured speakers during the event. They are: a local conservative talk show host, Curtis Wright; two members of; a representative from The John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank in Raleigh; and other local Republicans including an attendee at last weekend's "Tax Payers' March" in DC.

Paul Knight, the vice-president and general manager of Sea-Comm Media, one of the event's main sponsors and the host of the I Love America rally, said of the event that it "is not a political rally because no one will up be there saying, 'Vote for me.'"

Knight also happens to be running against the mayor, Bill Saffo, a Democrat, in the upcoming local November elections. Likewise, two of the featured speakers have also stated that they are running against Democratic incumbents in 2010. Betty Fennell plans to run against the incumbent R.C. Soles for the state Senate seat from the neighboring Brunswick County. Thom Goolsby plans to run against the incumbent Julia Boseman for the state Senate seat from New Hanover County, for which Wilmington is the county seat.

Monica Caison, president of this year's Riverfest celebration, said she's been assured by Paul Knight "that this is not a political [event]."

Letters are already pouring in into the local newspaper, Star News. Today, Star News, one of this year's sponsors, has published an editorial questioning the judgment of the board as well.

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