When deciding on attending a political event, it should be an enjoyable experience, no matter the candidate. Going into this caucus season, my ultimate goal was to observe and enjoy the process. To start, I enjoyed every single presidential event I attended. There were others I would do over again and others I could go without. This is my enjoyable ranking based on factors of environment, food, free merchandise, and how long I waited to see the candidate. No policy is included in the ranking or based on overall political factors.
Extremely Enjoyable: Vektoberfest.
I have to say, Vektoberfest was my favorite event by far. As college students, we will do anything for free food. This was the main enjoyable part of the event for candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. There was an abundance of different foods. I could choose between a tater to food truck, a grilled cheese food truck, and more. For dessert, there was an edible cookie dough truck.
Furthermore, you could enjoy free draft beer and seltzer for those over twenty-one. With all these options, it is clear why any college student would be happy at this event. Free food and drinks were a major draw for other event-goers as well. One woman described that she received a text from Ramaswamy’s campaign advertising the event. Wanting a night where she didn’t have to cook for herself, she was extremely pleased with the free food and beverages. She told me this as we waited in line for free face painting.
That’s right, this event also had activities galore. Unfortunately, I did not finish any face painting, but it was a wonderful opportunity. I did, however, paint myself a pumpkin to put in my room. Other families were playing lawn games and enjoying the live band. Vektoberfest made you forget you were at a political event and instead felt like a neighborhood block party. I certainly enjoyed the event because of the various food options and activities to participate in.
Finally, all the activities and food trucks made it easy not to realize how long Ramaswamy took to attend this event. After arriving around three o'clock in the afternoon, it was about an hour before Ramaswamy appeared. Other staffers and I quickly met him and did not have to wait in line to speak to him. Although we technically did wait for him to show up, the rest of the environment made it enjoyable.
Finally, I was lucky enough to score a free hat signed by Ramaswamy himself (which now belongs to the Drake University Archives). Other merchandise, however, was available to purchase with many different options.
Fairly Enjoyable: Doug Burgum at Drake University and Nikki Haley at Jethro’s BBQ.
Doug Burgum held this particular event at Drake University on Pomerantz Stage. This made the event very accessible because I could attend for a short time before leaving to attend class. This event certainly obtained points for convenience. Nikki Haley hosted her event at the beloved Jethro’s BBQ. Iowans were happy in this space, which was set up well for the event. My only complaint was that it was a bit of a tight squeeze. Overall, it was a sunny morning and an enjoyable group of Iowans.
After reading this article, you will realize free food is an easy way to enjoy yourself at an event. This is where Doug Burgum’s event made me happy. There were multiple options for breakfast pastries, Krispy Kreme Donuts, Coffee, and Hot Chocolate. I love a good Krispy Kreme Donut. Nikki Haley, however, chose a wonderful food location. Jethro’s is a well-known barbeque restaurant in Iowa. I also enjoy their wings. The only downside was that it was not free. While this is completely understandable, I love free food (I think it also tastes better).
Doug Burgum had good merchandise, if I do say so myself. I picked a free T-shirt that says “Doug Burgum for America.” The color is nice, and I enjoy a good Comfort Colors T-shirt. College students also never pass up the opportunity for a free T-shirt. At Nikki Haley’s event, an abundance of merchandise was available to purchase. I also enjoy a variety of merchandise, and Haley certainly had a full table of options.
Both candidates were timely to the event. Although I woke up early to attend Nikki Haley’s event at Jethro’s, she walked in shortly after the doors opened. We could spot her outside talking to the media, but she quickly approached the stage and spoke to the restaurant full of Iowans. Doug Burgum was also fairly on time for his event at Drake University. He arrived before I did. I knew this because as I walked in from the parking lot, I saw him sitting in a vehicle by the door of our Olmstead Center. Shortly after I took my seat, he started speaking.
Not Quite as Enjoyable: Donald Trump in Ottumwa.
Let me be clear: many of these factors are out of the control of the campaign for Donald Trump and are simply based on my opinion! The environment was somewhat exactly what I would expect at a rally for former President Donald Trump. We were in a large room with chairs and bleachers. There was the largest stage I had seen at an event with hundreds of people. After seating ran out, the room filled with supporters in every available space for standing. Unfortunately, it was a very warm day in Ottumwa. The line to get inside was long in the hot sun.
Unfortunately, the food was not free. There was a concession stand where I purchased a drink after we made it inside. After being in the hot sun for about an hour before coming inside, I was thankful for a cold drink. Other event-goers bought buckets of popcorn, but I did not see any other food purchased.
The rally also had an abundance of options for merchandise. Many sellers were not even associated with the campaign and had made the merchandise themselves. They would bring a wagon around the long line with options of hats and T-shirts. However, I did accept a drink cozie from Donald Trump's campaign.
Finally, we waited for Donald Trump for the longest out of any other candidate. After everyone had arrived, we waited for over three hours before he took the stage. I understand many different factors went into his arrival, but I won’t lie; my feet were exhausted at the end of the event.
Every event overall was enjoyable, but I value things like convenience, affordability, and time. This is not to fault any campaign because each was unique. Each event surprised me somehow, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to experience each one.