An Iowa farmer who is extraordinarily pleased that another farmer will be taking over the White House is spending almost $250,000 to bring farmers to the inauguration and to put on three nights of parties here for them and anyone else who cannot get into an inaugual ball.
The Farmers of Iowa Inaugural Committee - founded, headed and funded by grain farmer Elmer Carlson of Audubon, Iowa - has rented the ballroom of the International Inn at Thomas Circle for three nights, set up offices in Iowa and at the Gramercy Inn on Scott Circle, and installed who WATS lines.
Carlson expects at a least 600 people to come here from lowa for the inauguration next week, and as many as 6,000 to attend each of his International Inn parties on Jan 18, 19 and 20.
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Carlson, who described himself as a "farmer from western lowa" who "likes a little extracurricular fun," is fortune by entering the hybrid seed corn business early and introducing anhydrous according to an Audubon, lowa, man who has known Calson for 30 years.
Carlson has appeared on the Johnny Carson Show in this capacity as a former national cornhusking champion, ran unsuccessfully for Congress twice, was a Democratic Party national committeeman in 1952 and served on the party's platform committee in 1964, he said. Carlson supported Carter by buying full-page advertisements in the Des Moines Register, at a cost of "less than $10,000," urging farmers to vote for him.
"It's about time we had a farmer in the White House," Carlson said yesterday.
Carlson has not been invited to the Carter inauguration or to one of the six official parties himself, but he doesn't mind. "The ground is frozen out here anyway, so I'm going down to Washington for the inauguration," he said. Carlson grows soybeans, corn and wheat on about 1,800 acres.
Carlson would like as many farmers as possible to join him in Washington, and to wear one of the special badges he is having made up for them to wear throughout their stay here.
"They're going to be good colorful badges", he said. "So you can see 'em across the room and don't have to crane your neck like a silly goose."
The badges will be green and yellow and say "Farmers of Iowa (or whatsever state the wearer is from) Welcome Carter."
"I think if we're well-badged and represented Jimmy'll know he's got some friends in town," Carlson said.
The first of Carlson's three parties on Jan 18, will feature beer, peanuts donated by Carter nighbors in Plains, and popcorn from Iowa. "Warren Covington and the Clambake Seven" will be the featured band.
on jan. 19, the Duke Ellington Orchestra led by Ellington's son Mercer will preside, and on inauguration night Calrson will have the Tommy Dorsey band. The Oley Valley Hoedowners will perform every night.
As for the decor at the International Inn, it will be more beautiful than an official inauguarl party," said Carlson assistant Marilyn Morrison, who designed the decorations herself Hay and cornstalks will be displayed and "peanut waterfalls" (streamers of peanut vines) will hang from the chandeliers.
Carlson hopes that Carter himself will drop by, but he understands that the President-elect has a full schedule. "At least he could send Billy, though," Carlson added.