Local Republican Party leaders believe that all work and no play would make a political convention a dull place – and reflect poorly on Fort Wayne.
So they will offer food, music, tourist attractions and big-name speakers to the 1,775 delegates expected to attend the GOP state convention at Grand Wayne Center in June.
“This just isn’t about the delegates showing up, doing their vote and leaving. We wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to really showcase the community,” Bill Bean, a convention organizer, said Monday during a news conference at Allen County Republican Party Headquarters.
“We need to show people that Republicans know how to have fun,” said Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd.
GOP officials said the June 6 and 7 convention will feature:
- Speeches on June 6 by former Arkansas Gov. and Fox News talk-show host Mike Huckabee and GOP National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. State GOP Chairman Tim Berry said Huckabee and Priebus “know how important it is to bring the party together to gain the enthusiasm that is going to be necessary for us to gain victory in the fall.”
- Fort Fun Night at Parkview Field on June 6. Chop’s Steak and Seafood, Club Soda, Eddie Merlot’s, J.K. O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House, Main Street Bistro and Martini Lounge, and Oyster Bar will provide the food, and Last Call, Sierra Shame, Sugar Shot and Urban Legend will perform music. Fireworks are planned, too.
- On June 7 will be a celebration of Gov. Mike Pence’s birthday and tourist shuttles to Science Central, Allen County Courthouse, the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Fort Wayne Museum of Art and Jefferson Pointe Shopping Center. A concert by what Berry said would be a well-known entertainer will be that night at Embassy Theatre. Convention delegates will nominate Republican candidates for state auditor, treasurer and secretary of state. Three people seek the treasurer’s nod, and the contest should boost interest in the convention from delegates and news media.