Huckabee, Priebus Keynote Speakers At GOP Convention

By Rachel Martin - 21Alive

April 21, 2014 Updated Apr 21, 2014 at 6:01 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – The Indiana State Republican Convention is being held in Fort Wayne this year – the first time the convention will be outside Indianapolis.

Allen County GOP organizers are making some big plans for their shot at hosting the Republican State Convention.

The Indiana Republican Party announced at the Allen County Republican Headquarters in downtown Fort Wayne Monday that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus will be the keynote speakers at the convention this summer.

The convention will take place Friday, June 6 and Saturday, June 7, but Allen County GOP organizers are taking the normally day and half convention and stretching it out an extra day.

Organizers are expecting approximately 2,000 – 2,500 people in town that weekend.

During the day on Saturday free shuttles will be offered to various tourist destinations around the city like Jefferson Pointe, Glenbrook Mall, Science Central and the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.

For Saturday night convention organizers are planning "Fort Fun Night" at Parkview Field featuring the "Taste of Fort Wayne" with six or seven local restaurants providing the food. They're also going to bring in a nationally known music group to the Embassy Theatre, although organizers haven't announced who.

Convention Host Committee Chair Bill Bean says with GOP conventions in the past, people would just show up and leave, but with a $250,000 – $300,000 budget, they're hoping to showcase Fort Wayne and entice people to stay.

"This extra element of family-oriented entertainment, with a national keynote speaker, with a national music group on Saturday night, enhances substantially the previous format for the State Convention,” said Steve Shine, Allen County GOP Chair.

"Our stated desire is really to send the delegates back with a very positive mental attitude, and they become the nucleus to expanding that out to the rest of the voter base. The fact that it's in Fort Wayne and we're doing something different, we're keeping it very positive, very upbeat, very motivational, we hope will be the cause of something that will actually result in better voter turnout and participation in the future, said Bean.

Officials with Visit Fort Wayne predict the State Convention will have a $350,000 – $500,000 economic impact on the city.

For more information on the convention go to visitfortwayne.com/gop

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