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New venue for Iowa Straw Poll

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and his wife Karen walk behind a bagpiper at the GOP Ames Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa, Aug. 13, 2011. Thousands of Iowa Republicans mingled with presidential hopefuls on a college campus in the first test to see how the candidates trying to unseat President Obama are faring with the GOP base.Michele Bachmann wins Iowa Straw PollIowa Straw Poll: A carnival that kills campaigns
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

The Iowa Straw Poll is leaving Ames, Iowa, for a new locale just about 18 miles away. The state Republican party announced that the Central Iowa Expo in Boone, Iowa, will host the event on Aug. 8.

Committee members found much to like about Boone: it's 30 minutes from the Des Moines suburbs and three hours from the most distant points in the state. The party's press release says that the venue has good parking, competitive pricing and the infrastructure necessary for a big event.

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement that the new venue "allows us to keep ticket prices affordable, ensuring families from across Iowa can participate in this one-of-a-kind event."

The Straw Poll, a fundraising event held every four years for the state party has been in Ames, at Iowa State University, since 1979. But this year, organizers opened the event up to bidding because, said the Des Moines Register, they were unable "to negotiate a rental price at [Iowa State University] that they felt was fair."

The state GOP had also considered canceling the event altogether, because in recent years it has sometimes elevated candidates on the fringe of the party and been a distraction from the overall contest. In the end, the party decided to hold it because it's still considered to be good for fundraising and giving Iowa voters the ability to meet the presidential candidates.