Sunday, August 26, 2001

Fab fiestas

Politicians know how to party

        For the most part, Northern Kentucky politicians know how to have a good time.

        They put in a lot of hours, attend countless meetings, bash each other at times and put up with reporters. They also know how to mix some partying with their politics. Many can turn a boring fund-raiser or campaign event into a blast.

        So when I tagged Saturday's Guidugli family picnic as the signature political event in Northern Kentucky, I received calls and comments from some snubbed pols and party leaders who had their own vote for the best time on the local campaign scene.

        Here, in no particular order, are my picks for the top events where politics and partying come together. Since I've already mentioned Campbell County's Guidugli family picnic, I'll move on to other events:

        • 4th District Lincoln Day Dinner. Republicans pack 'em in every February at the Drawbridge. U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning and Kentucky GOP Vice Chairman Damon Thayer always throw the partisan crowd some red meat.

        • Boone County GOP Christmas party. Some years you can't even get a ticket to this event. Great example of why the Republicans rule Boone County — they turn out for the party's events.

        • Campbell County Democratic Jamboree. Great way to spend a hot summer afternoon — beer, pretzels, music and lots of good political gossip — all down by the river at Thomasville in Dayton.

        • Campbell County Senior Citizen Picnic. It's always hot but the beer is cold and before you know it the seniors are up dancing the afternoon away. Politics as it was meant to be.

        • Fund-raisers thrown by Paula Miller, Steve and Ellen Hiltz, Ray Beil, John Yeager or Wayne Carlisle. All are wonderful hosts in their beautiful homes. All follow my wife's secret for a good party — low lights, good music and a variety of alcohol. Throw in catering by Behle Street — a favorite touch of Mrs. Miller's — and you can smile while some county commissioner wannabe explains the merits of planning and zoning legislation.

        • County fairs. I love to walk about with pols as they work the crowd while I stuff my face with corndogs, funnel cakes, snow cones, barbecue, country ham and lemonade.

        • B&B Riverboats. Cruising the river, stunning views, great food. And lots of places to hide when you're tired of talking politics.

        • Church festivals. The original and still best place to find politicians working for votes. The grills are full of burgers, brats and dogs, and when you're done hanging with the pols, you can play blackjack. Great to take the kids as well.

        • Fish fries. Northern Kentucky's big Roman Catholic community guarantees lots of fish fries during Lent. The smart candidates always show up to meet people or at least be seen.

        • Devou Park Memorial Building. A favorite haunt of Kenton County Democrats. One of those long picnic tables stocked with party trays, hot dogs and homemade desserts is one of my favorite sights in Northern Kentucky.

        • Turfway Park. Horses, politics, bourbon. Heck, that is Kentucky.

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics. He can be reached at 859-578-5581, or by e-mail at pcrowley@


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