Iowa After the Caucuses: What's in It for You?
Soon today's "historic" Iowa caucuses will be over -- interpret that however you like -- and the state will abruptly recede back into its customary position in the Midwest as Iowa's outsized reputation is not something that typically lingers. And you can't really blame the Department of Tourism for that; they're in the unenviable position of having to sell their state to the world during its bleakest, most bone-chilling months.
But let's assume for the moment that today's events will inspire you to travel to their source. One thing's for sure, if caucus tourism ever takes off, Iowa will be ready. For starters, there's the "Caucus Iowa" exhibit at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines, running through Jan. 2009, where, among other things, visitors can "step into a living room and a gymnasium to learn exactly how these grass roots caucuses work -- for both Republicans and Democrats. And the visitor will get an impression of the experience of caucus night."
You've only got until Jan. 13 to see "Caucus! The Musical" at Des Moines State Historical Theatre, and to hear such soon to be classics as "Get Off Your Sorry Ass and Vote" and "The Tough Question Sidestep," but the Des Moines restaurants frequented by the various campaigns will still be open for business, even if that business won't be as brisk as before. Red Staters might stop in for some red meat at 801 Steak and Chop House, admiring the warm if cigar-friendly atmosphere that was a favorite of Republican campaigns. Card-carrying Democratic tourists might want to stick with Azalea, which was popular the Clinton campaign among others, and features American cuisine "with Mediterranean, Asian and regional American influences."
And then there's the music venue the Val Air Ballroom, which will try valiantly to soldier on without Mike Huckabee playing bass guitar accompanied by Chuck Norris, as will the Iowa Events Center, site of last fall's dramatic Jefferson Jackson dinner where Barack Obama's fortunes began to turn and which will soon host a Van Halen concert (Feb. 6)
For all your other Iowa needs, check out TheGarance.com, a blog written by Garance Franke-Ruta. She spent weeks on the campaign trail, then compiled this resource for reporters.
So, yes, Iowa will go on once the media convoy heads to New Hampshire, where they'll be greeted by a whole new crop of auditoria, eateries and, yes, exhibits by yet another historical society, this one called "New Hampshire: A Proven Primary Tradition."
Admit it. You've been to Iowa. What were the highlights?
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