Attending the Chris Dodd for president campaign event, about 200 Siouxlanders also got a rare treat, a 12-minute concert by multiple Grammy Award winner Paul Simon.
For free. Tickets for a Simon solo concert earlier in 2006 went for an average price of $60.
Simon has known Dodd back to when they were in Czechoslovakia monitoring elections two decades ago, and in a short interview said he wanted to support his friend as Americans sort through a crowded Democratic Party candidate field.
On a stage erected at the West High School softball diamond on a 90-degree evening, Simon sang the same three songs he performed earlier in the day in Fort Dodge -- ´Mrs. Robinson´, ´The Boxer´ and ´Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard.´ It was just Simon strumming a guitar solo and singing, although a few in the crowd joined him.
Smiling broadly as he took the stage and tuned his guitar, Simon said, ´I am glad to be here.´
A man shouted out, ´Just like Central Park,´ in reference to the 1982 Simon and Garfunkel reunion in the famous NYC park.
´It is kind of like Central Park,´ Simon responded.
As Dodd was bringing Simon to the stage, he quipped, ´You may not know it, but I´m Art Garfunkel on the weekends.´ More seriously, Dodd said Simon is ´a remarkable talent who has captured the spirit of our country´ for 40 years.
On ´Mrs. Robinson,´ Simon paused midway, and before he delivered the memorable line namechecking Yankee Joe DiMaggio, referenced Dodd´s passion for Red Sox baseball. Then he shrugged, and altered the line, substituting, ´Where have you gone Ted Williams?´
Wearing black wraparound shades, a black ball cap and red polo shirt, he whistled the break in ´Me and Julio,´ then raised his guitar, really strumming away at the conclusion of the song.
In the crowd, there were lots of smiles, heads nodding and bodies moving in time. Cathy Seiler of Sioux City said Simon´s performance ´was like being in a little bar.´
Tim Bottaro, former Woodbury County Democratic Party chairman, said he heard many stayed away because of the heat. Bottaro said if the event had been held indoors rather than on the diamond, Dodd and Simon ´could have gotten an (Barack) Obama-sized crowd.´
But he said he thought it was wonderful -- ´The goosebumps, oh my, on everybody.´
Added Bottaro, ´There ain´t any Republicans this cool.´