After a three and a half hour drive I rolled into Pella a little after three o’clock on a beautiful summer day. At first it looked like any other small town in Iowa, and I have seen a few of them. When I saw detour signs and a notice that Main street was closed I knew I was in the right place. Lest you think that is an unusual statement I should let you know that I am directionally challenged. I have a GPS in my car and I never leave home without back up directions from Mapquest and a map of the area.
I parked and walked through a really lovely park to reach Franklin St. where I knew the Opera house was located. I just looked for police barricades and headed toward them. It was an hour and a half until the film was going to be shown so I walked up and down the street and into several shops. A friend had told me that the shops were quaint and that the bakery downtown was a must stop. I chatted with shop owners, most of whom did not want to remain in their shops. They wanted to be outside on the street where things were happening so I didn’t go into any more after the first one since I wasn’t actually shopping for anything. I got to the bakery eventually thinking I might find a treat for my husband who had not come with me. I thought the shop was a bit crowded for 3:30 on a Tuesday afternoon until I looked to my right and saw Todd Palin and a couple of security guards. Sure enough there was Sarah Palin talking to people and getting her picture taken. So much for the treats, I took my camera out,too.
I followed the Palin entourage into another shop and tried to get a decent picture of SP. I’m not a good photographer, so I needed several tries. When the Palin’s proceeded to the next shop down the street, I decided to head back toward the Opera House. There were a number of people in line so I joined the crowd and talked to several people, a couple of whom were Palin supporters, but several were undecided.
This is not an unusual phenomenon in IA, to be undecided. I attended one county central committee meeting where a lady was literally jumping up and down and clapping that a Sarah Palin representative (I’m not that, but she thought I was) was actually attending their meeting. She filled out a sign up sheet for me and checked the undecided box. So I am getting used to Iowans being undecided until well into the campaign.
About 30 minutes before the film was to start we were allowed into the Opera House to pick up our tickets and find our seats. The lobby is tiny even for the small seating capacity of this historical building. But the building is charming and has been beautifully restored by the citizens of Pella. They are rightfully very proud of it.
As I was seated I noticed an organ just below the center of the stage. Sure enough an organist played music for us for about 20 minutes before the event began. Sarah and Todd walked in last to the audience singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” accompanied by the organist. We followed with “This is My Country”, the pledge and a prayer. The mayor of Pella thanked Sarah and Todd for coming and told her that he knew she sometimes rocked the boat, but that rocking the boat was better than letting it sink. Sounds like something Sarah would have said.
Now for the main event.
I am not going to review the film, since that has been done aptly by so many others, except to say that the film has been edited to clean up the language of the attacks by the media on the governor, and that I thoroughly enjoyed it. The audience frequently broke into spontaneous applause throughout the film and gave a standing ovation to Sarah Palin and Steve Bannon.
We heard from the governor after the film in a short impromptu speech urging us to help restore America, not fundamentally change it. Andrew Breitbart said a few words telling us that this film is retribution for Sarah Palin.
Behind the Opera House is a charming bricked walkway center with shops, a few businesses and restaurants. It was there that we were served bbq pork sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans and bars for dessert. It was exactly what you might serve at your own backyard cookout. You may have chosen to grill burgers or hot dogs, but being served pork in IA is like being served beef in NE, inevitable.
I sat at a table with people mostly from the Pella area. We chatted about the film and several were surprised to learn in the film exactly why Palin resigned as governor of Alaska. I find this frustrating because I was sitting at a table with politically active people (almost everyone present was) and they still didn’t know why she resigned. Sarah Palin told us why she resigned, but the constant harping by the media that she is a quitter has done it’s damage. One woman at the table actually told a CNN reporter who was leaning across the barrier (media were not allowed in the event, but were just outside the event) that she had finally learned why SP resigned and would support her if she ran. He tried to get her to back track and asked her about MB, whom he described as a policy wonk. But the lady had the courage of her new convictions and told him she could not support a candidate with no executive experience. Sarah has at least one new convert.
I hope this scenario played out at many tables at the cookout. I can only attest to one convert, but there were a lot of tables at that cookout, about 1000 people worth of tables.
After eating, Sarah had people lined up to see her and get a picture or an autograph. I was clutching a program that was just itching to be signed. But, it was getting late and I had a three and a half hour drive home. Since I had to work the next day I just couldn’t stand in line for an hour or more to get that picture and my program signed. If SP runs I expect to have many more opportunities to do that. So I headed home thrilled at having been invited and her having heard her speak in person. There is no describing the electricity in the room when Sarah Palin speaks. You have to experience that for yourselves, and I hope it won’t be long before you do.
*Side note: Gals, I know you are all waiting to hear what Sarah wore. I thought I knew what to wear to an outdoor cookout in the Midwest so I donned white jeans and a yellow summery top for the 84 degree weather. I got it right and so did Sarah. She wore black jeans and a black western style shirt to visit the local shops before the premiere, and she wore dark blue denim jeans and a dark blue and white shirt in a softer style to the premiere. I did spot a few people in dressier garb, but maybe they were from Des Moines (liberal country).