HANNIBAL | Organizers haven't yet found a suitable location for Missouri Democrat Days in 2020, marking the second consecutive year the largest political gathering in the area has been canceled.
John Yancey, one of the founding members of the annual event and president of the board, said organizers haven't found a venue which combines an expansive layout and affordable cost for vendors, attendees and guest speakers. Fellow board member Joe Frese agreed with Yancey that making the decision to cancel the event was difficult, but board members are working toward a potential outdoor Demo Days event for the summer.
“We're looking at something this summer, maybe a picnictype of deal,” Frese said, adding Demo Days could be associated in some way with the annual Dollar Day Picnic held each June at Mark Twain Lake's Spalding Beach Pavilion.
Frese said the Dollar Day Picnic at Mark Twain Lake features pork burgers and all-you-can-eat food and beverages for $1, serving as a thank you event for supporters of the Missouri Democrat Club and a forum for elected officials and candidates. The Northeast Missouri Democrat Rally will take place in March, but Frese said it won't take the place of Demo Days.
The rally begins 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21, at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in Troy. The event will feature music, food and presentations from area and state candidates. Yancey said he and fellow board members have not given up hope on bringing Demo Days back to the Hannibal area for 2020.
“We're still looking for a place at the moment. We don't have one, but we're not going to give it up,” Yancey said. “It's kind of disheartening, but at the moment we're on hold.”
Each year, Demo Days attracted hundreds of guests for two days at the Hannibal Inn and later at the Quality Inn and Suites. Speakers included former President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, former President Bill and Hillary Clinton, the late Mel Carnahan and former governors Bob Holden and Jay Nixon.
Yancey and fellow organizers wanted to be sure they could guarantee aspects like having enough food on hand, availability of hospitality rooms and selling affordable tickets, but they haven't yet found a location meeting all those requirements. He commended all of the volunteers, area businesses, political supporters and others behind the scenes that have made the event a success since it began in 1972. The event has often served as the first of the Missouri Democratic Party's regional rallies each year.
'We've enjoyed a lot of good support from a lot of good people — I kind of feel like we're letting them down, but I don't want to put anything forth that's not going to do a good job for us,” Yancey said. “We're looking and we're thinking, and we may have to do something that we don't necessarily want to do,” he said. “But we're not giving up the ghost, and we're certainly interested in good government — that's what we've supported and we still do.”
Yancey welcomed anyone with a location suggestion or other information to reach out to him at 573-221-4161, send a letter to Democrat Days Inc., P.O. Box 893, Hannibal, Mo. 63401 or visit the Missouri Democrat Days Inc. Facebook page.