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The 35th annual Harkin Steak Fry was held at the Warren County Fairgrounds in Indianola, Iowa this afternoon. When there’s a contested Democratic Party presidential primary race in the year before the quadrennial presidential election this event is the place to be for candidates and political activists and followers in Iowa. In other years there are always prominent national Democratic Party speakers, Iowa candidates and office holders, and maybe a future presidential candidate or two testing the Iowa waters.

There’s food with plenty of speeches after the food. The outdoor venue includes a seating area for the speeches along with tents and long tables for dining (and watching the goings on). No, they do not actually fry the steaks, they’re grilled. Today there were approximately one thousand people in attendance at the event.

The weather was comfortably warm with partly cloudy skies. In past years we’ve slogged through the rain and mud or had gloriously beautiful weather. Either way, it’s all a fun part of the event.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) (far right) and Senator Tom Harkin (D) (right) at the press availability

at the 35th Annual Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, Iowa on September 16, 2012.

Christie Vilsack (D), former Iowa First Lady and candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.

The Harkin Steak Fry is also an opportunity for Iowa Democratic Party activists and supporters to get together and share their politics.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D), the featured speaker at the 2012 Harkin Steak Fry.

A number of Iowa Democratic party candidates and organizations had information tables with campaign and issue swag.

Congressman Bruce Braley (D).

Congressman Dave Loebsack (D).

Congressman Leonard Boswell (D).

Christie Vilsack (D).

Current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (D).

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) greets the crowd on the way to the stage.

Senator Tom Harkin (D).

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D).