Harkin Steak Fry: eatin’s done; speeches to come

Here’s my second dispatch from the Harkin steak fry which will showcase six Democrats who are seeking their party’s 2008 presidential nomination.

The venue is a grassy field that is used as the launching pad for Indianola’s hot air balloon races, held in late July, early August.  Tents with row upon row of tables and chairs are in the east quadrant of the field for folks to sit and eat their steak dinner.  Most of the people who bought tickets brought their own chairs.  A few spread out on blankets.  Others are standing.  Some are even having a beer.

The Edwards campaign has handed out paddles which are sort of tamborine-line.  The Obama campaign gathered across the road and Obam swept in with many of his 3000 people marching behind him.  The pre-program has begun.  Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge declared Iowa "Democrat County!"  Twice. 

Now, before the big kids’ program begins, they’re pumping a song by the Black Eyed Peas through the sound system.  "Let’s get it started…" is the lyric.

In 2003 when all the Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination were here (and Bill Clinton was the closer), it rained and the field was soggy.  (When Clinton came on stage, the sun came out.  No lie.)  Anyway, today is 180 degrees different.  Sunshine.  A firm field on which to sit or stand.   

I am currently sitting in what is called the press file area.  Rows of tables and chairs are arranged on a concrete floor in what we farm kids would call a Morton Building.  The press riser is north of where I’m sitting, about 80 feet from the stage.  The stage has a grass-covered hill as a backdrop.  A couple of farm implements (including an International Harvestor tractor…No John Deere green that I can see) and some Harkin signs are planted in the field.  There’s also a huge American flag which will be directly behind the speakers.

C-SPAN is broadcasting this event, and the C-SPAN broadcast is being pumped into the press file area, so that is what I’ll be listening to as I type.  C-SPAN is doing MOS interviews and just talked with a woman from Mount Pleasant, Iowa, who is an Obama precinct leader.  That would be the same Mount Pleasant where former Governor Tom Vilsack hails from — he’s supporting Hillary Clinton, as you likely know.

The speeches are to start at 2:30 p.m.  It’s 2:30.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.