The original Wing Ding Committee met in 2003 to plan a democratic fundraiser that would raise funds for the county Democratic Central Committees. The original three counties cooperating in this effort were Hancock, Winnebago and Cerro Gordo. At the first event in 2004 the featured speakers were state and local officeholders and candidates running for office. The very first Iowa Wing Ding was held at the Historic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa where the event is still held currently.
In subsequent years the committee added four more area counties including Franklin, Butler, Kossuth, and Floyd. These seven core counties then planned and executed the event and benefitted each of the counties’ Central Committee Treasuries. The Iowa Wing Ding has seen a bevy of speakers with national recognition. The various featured speakers from past events have included: Sen. John Edwards, then Senator and now President Barack Obama, Governor Chet Culver, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Tom Harkin, and this year’s stellar line-up Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Governor Martin O’Malley, and Senator Bernie Sanders.
In 2008 the Iowa Wing Ding began the annual tradition of awarding The Beacon Award to pay tribute to an outstanding National or State Democratic officeholder. The annual recipient represents an individual who provides a beacon of light to the party through leadership, integrity, guidance, honor and truth. The 2015 award recipient is Iowa Senator Amanda Ragan.
This grass –roots event has now grown to encompass twenty- three Iowa counties. The original seven core counties serve as the organizing and managing committee for the annual gathering of Democratic activists and enthusiasts. Funds are dispersed to all participating counties with a formula that reimburses the seven core counties for the expenses of producing the fundraising event and counties eighth through twenty-third receive a stipulated dollar amount from each ticket they sell. This consortium of participating counties welcomes other counties from around the state to participate in future years.
The Iowa Wing Ding has hosted media representatives and visitors from all over the United States. Iowa Wing Ding Chair, Mr. Randy Black states, “ This annual grass-roots event has generated a considerable amount of interest from political writers and party activists. There seems to be widespread agreement that the Iowa Wing Ding represents the best of what can be accomplished by a consortium of Iowa counties working together as a force for bringing together Democrats.”
The Iowa Democratic Wing Ding is not affiliated with the Iowa Democratic Party, and is sponsored and put on by the following county parties:
Boone – Buena Vista – Butler – Calhoun – Cerro Gordo – Dickinson – Emmet – Floyd – Franklin – Hancock – Hardin – Howard – Kossuth – Mitchell – O’Brien – Osceola – Palo Alto – Pocahontas – Winnebago – Woodbury – Worth – Wright
The funds raised by the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding are distributed directly to participating counties general funds, and are used to support county parties, local candidates, and local events. We believe this model is key to making county parties successful and prominent in Iowa, not to mention winning elections!