Skip to comments.Danís Bake Sale and Rush Limbaugh Ė 16 Years Ago Today
Posted on 05/22/2009 12:48:07 AM PDT by Finny
Dans Bake Sale and Rush Limbaugh 16 Years Ago Today
ONLY Five Years After Rushs Show Became Nationally Syndicated (1988)
Letter from my Mother
May 24, 1993
Fort Collins, Colorado
If there were liberals there, they were quiet as Republicans at Hyannisport. Dans Bake Sale. Fort Collins, Colorado, Old Town Square. May 22, 1993. Tens of thousands of Rush listeners were there, from all over the U.S. and the world. Local newspaper headlines proclaim 20,000-plus. No way the number had to have been double or triple. They started arriving in the Ft. Collins area as early as a week before, in chartered and private planes, buses, cars, vans, and R.V.s, like your dad and me. Some even came by bicycle. They came alone and they came in caravans.
Maybe you dont know how Dans Bake Sale came about. A couple of months ago, Dan Kay called Rushs show and mentioned an issue of the Limbaugh Newsletter which had been, in violation of copyright laws, copied for him by a friend. When asked why he didnt have his own subscription, Dan replied that his wife said their budget wouldnt allow the necessary $29.95. Rush nearly capitulated to giving Dan a subscription, but finally said he couldnt do it, that to give the subscription away would only make Dan a dependent ward of the EIB radio network and would inhibit his drive to be the best he could be.
Rush then hit upon the idea of Dans Bake Sale, satirically following the fad of elementary school children holding bake sales to reduce the national deficit.
The suggestion was instantly and gleefully embraced by the millions of listeners of EIB (Excellence In Broadcasting, Rushs network), many of whom called within minutes with offers of help. From there a card table on a street corner Dans Bake Sale grew, and the card table became 70 vendor booths in the citys Old Town Square.
The crowds that came were the most colorful, happy bunch you can imagine. Their cars, trucks, vans, whatever, were covered with signs. Rushing to Dans Bake Sale. Dans Bake Sale or Bust. 1,200 Miles to Buy a Cookie. Their kids, and there were hundreds, wore hats, and t-shirts with every kind of conservative message. There was even one baby boy in a stroller complete with a sign, Rush Look-alike, and he certainly was a chubby, round-faced, alert miniature Rush Limbaugh.
It was definitely not a crowed of religious zealots, redneck fanatics, or cult followers. They may have been there; I didnt see them and they certainly did not dominate. The many people I spoke to were family oriented, educated, thoughtful, concerned, and most of all, optimistic. Rush was scheduled to appear at a midway point in the day to accept a check for $29.95 from Dan Kay in return for a years subscription to the Limbaugh Letter. The weather was beautiful from early morning until shortly before his scheduled appearance, when a thunderstorm descended upon Ft. Collins.
People were by then packed into every corner of the towns streets spoking out in circular fashion from the central dais, and when I say packed, I mean they were standing back to belly, breathing in unison! When that thunderstorm hit, complete with thunder, lightening, hailstones, and drenching rain, wouldnt you think there would be just a few complaints? I was there, about 15 feet from the platform, and all I heard was cheers and a lot of laughter as some began dragging out umbrellas.
Then, as suddenly as the storm had hit, the sun came out and the crowd went crazy with cheers. Eight mounted police were escorting Rush through that crush of people. Somehow they managed, ever so slowly, to make an opening down the center of the street we were on, straight to the stage.
It was crazy, just unbelievable. No one was upset, angry, panicked, or otherwise distressed. Even those mounted police were smiling and kept saying, What a great crowd! What a crowd! Thanks, folks!
Well, Rush got to the stage just as the last clouds left. Hows that for an omen? The brief ceremony opened with the national anthem sung by a 14-year-old girl. There wasnt a dry eye in the place. The check was delivered and accepted. The mayor, a senator, a few other dignitaries, and Rush spoke briefly, but no one could doubt that the day belonged to Dan, aided and abetted by Rush.
Dan Kay was the ideal catalyst for bringing together thousands of conversationalists from across the fruited plain, as Limbaugh calls his listeners. A flea-mart clerk just out of college, married and with a large student loan debt, Dan was an attractive young man who handled with real grace what must have been an overwhelming experience. When we arrived at about 7:30 a.m., he was smiling and chatting with the hundreds already there anxious to meet him and wish him well. He was clearly surprised at the numbers there so early for something billed for an 11 a.m. opening. He was still there when we left shortly before 4 p.m., the publicized closing hour, still smiling, still sitting for the hundreds who wanted pictures taken with him next to his cookie stand where his pretty wife and a throng of friends worked, and which, incidentally, was almost immediately sold out of cookies.
No one who was at Dans Bake Sale could avoid talking about the crowd. It was made up of every demographic possible. I believe the crowd probably numbered 50,000 to 60,000. In the middle of the day, air traffic was reporting a seven-mile-long bus caravan moving slowly in heavy traffic between Denver and Ft. Collins. Traffic into town was backed up for miles and hours, according to other reports, and cars were directed to out-of-town parking where free bus service was provided into town. From early morning until late afternoon, downtown was jammed.
It was an extraordinarily well-behaved group. Every city official and police officer commented on it. There was not a single incident of vandalism nor a single arrest. There was no clean up problem; most litter was neatly centralized around overflowing dumpsters. Later reports said the clean-up crew was completely finished by 6 p.m., a record two hours after the advertised end of the event.
Limbaughs staff, well known to his listeners, was there and signed autographs for hours. They talked and joked with anyone who approached them. There were many favorite Rush callers, celebrities in their own right. Mick, raconteur from the high mountains of New Mexico, was there, a little overwhelmed at his own notoriety. Tiia, from England, was there. The couple from Guam. So many, and great fun to meet or even see.
There was entertainment all day long. Bands, dancers, singers. The booths sold everything from food to t-shirts to memorabilia. Snapple, the official Rush Limbaugh beverage, was available all over the place. Brennans of New Orleans, a five-star restaurant of international fame, was there with its two best chefs selling the famed dessert Bananas Foster. They sold more than 8,000 servings, a near-inhuman feat considering the complexity of the dessert, at $3 each and gave all the money to charity. Most of the vendors did the same.
I found the anti-liberal comment to be, in the main, light hearted. I thought Clinton-bashing was at a minimum, given the general crowd sentiment.
If there were any protestors, I didnt see them. The only negative things I saw were laughable. One was a penciled slogan on a restaurant electric box which read, Get a life, Rush. (Whoever wrote it should have such a life!) Another was a nice-looking young man wearing a perplexed smile and a tight black t-shirt which admonished, Question Authority. Also, two teen couples came into the square around the end of the day, and one of the girls a grubby-looking specimen hopped up on a brick wall and screamed out, Hey you stupid conservatives! Open your minds!
The response was interesting in its disinterest. The only comment I heard was made quietly and with a smile: Open our minds to that? The girl looked around belligerently for a moment or two, then hopped down and the four teens ambled out of the square.
Dan Kay called in to Rushs show the following Monday. He said hed hoped to make enough money to retire his student loan debt but fallen short not enough cookie bakers! People had tried to press money upon him after his cookies were gone. He wouldnt take it! He said he wasnt looking for a handout; if he didnt have something to sell, it wasnt right to take the money. Maybe that attitude could become a trend.
Some folks are pushing for another bake sale, another year. I rather hope not. It really was a one-of-a-kind happening. You had to have been there to know. Inevitably, it would become commonplace; then again, wouldnt it be wonderful if that sort of one-of-a-kind became commonplace?
I’m surprise Rush hasn’t made the connection between Dan’s Bake Sale and the Teabaggers.
In both cases Republicans had just been handed a spanking and there was no clear conservative voice.
Instead of waiting for a leader to emerge, conservatives took it upon themselves to make a statement.
Wow, Finny. That’s beautiful. I got tears trickling through my cold cream. (I bet el Rushbo will comment on this later today. (it’s 4:31 AM where I am). I am really amazed that this actually happened, but not surprised. Oh, to have been there! He can resign all he wants, but he still is the titular head of the RNC.
This was just 2 years before I become a listener of the EIB. I’m sorry I missed it. Crap damn, that WAS the first tea party!
Prior, I was a non-interested party, although I loved Uncle Ronnie. Just was too young and stupid to realize politics mattered. I ended up driving a hooptie that only had AM. Picking up Rush’s show, at first I was appalled and insulted, and listened only to take my Road Rage out on the radio instead of the folks on the PIP.
Then about 2 weeks later, the Common Damn Sense Fairy hit me over the head with a flag pole and I said “Oh....”....been a fan and a Patriot ever since and I don’t really care if I have FM or not.
Thanks for posting this, it’s a great story and a great memory, and a tremendously uplifting account of how damn wonderful we - the faithful Republicans who GET IT - are.
1. I wonder if Rush could pull this off again. Times have changed and his power of persuasion doesn’t seem to be what it was then.
2 Whatever happened to Dan?
Did you forget /sarcasm tag? Rush's listeners have multiplied many times over since the '08 elections.
size doesn’t equal power. Rush could have sold Edsels in those days.
I remember that day quite vividly. It brings back fond memories.
The US just not seem to be the same anymore.
We need a big gathering like this in Washington DC. Maybe some caller to Rush can get another bakesale in Washington to show the spirit of free enterprise.
Nice piece, Finny... Best wishes to your Mom.
My wife and I were recently blessed with the birth of our first grandson, also named Finny. We’ll take your post and your Mom’s letter as a good omen!
This reminder makes me feel really old. It seems like it was just a few weeks ago that this was going on. I guess I should have followed the election results more closely./s
I agree that Rush should organize a similar event. He should give a series of speeches, to celebrate the 21st anniversary of his show becoming national (Sat., Aug. 1). July 31-Aug. 2, he should give speeches, in Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New York, Atlanta, and Phoenix, to tell why he’s conservative and why he thinks that conservatives will win many elections, in 2010. I choose those cities because all of those states will have elections for the U.S. Senate and governor, in 2010.
Believe me, I got choked up reading the original letter (about twice as long) and retyping it into my computer so I could post it today. It's been edited for space and while it was dated May 24 and my Mom wrote the bulk of it in the days immediately following the bake sale, I think the version I was finally able to dig up had been slightly fiddled with (talking about how Dan called the following Monday, for example). I know that my mom wrote it not so much to or for me, as along the lines of one of those Christmas letters copied and sent to all kinds of people.
At the time -- remember, Rush had only been on the air nationally for about five years -- I was not a regular listener to Rush, and had only just discovered him because my folks said they loved listening to him while driving. They'd call from on the road (they'd retired, sold their house, and taken off in a fifth wheeler to explore America for a few years, and were having a blast) and my mom would say, "We're heading for Dan's Bake Sale." I'd say, "What's that?" and she'd say, "Oh, nevermind, then, it's not important," and I could hear the smile in her voice!
It was kind of an inside joke among Rush listeners, I guess! Regular folks, when they saw cars and RVs on the road with "Dan's Bake Sale or Bust" signs, had no idea what they meant. Rush listeners sure did!!!
I started listening right about the time of the Bake Sale. I remember looking eagerly in the L.A. Times and watching the network news, for stories about Dan's Bake Sale ... not a peep. I remember seeing a few very short write-ups in the back pages of a news magazine, maybe Time, and an AP or UPI report equally short and unimpressive. My gosh ... 50,000 or so people converging on a little town spontaneously to show their support of a conservative talk radio phenomenon who'd only been on the air for about five years ... talk about SIGNIFICANT!
But the MSM approach was as if it never happened. Yet Rush went on to become, 16 years later, easily the most listened-to talk show host in America and probably the world. This shows me that the MSM can ignore stories all it wants, but reality marches on. The reality 16 years ago was that a vast groundswell of Americans found their voice in Rush Limbaugh, and it was a significant event in American history.
I sometimes wonder: if the MSM had covered Dan's Bake Sale for the significant event that it was, how many of us would have assumed that the coverage was what led Rush to become so popular, and had the MSM not covered it, Rush would never have become such a conservative icon?
But the fact is that the MSM ignored the event, as if it never happened. The MSM didn't "make" Rush. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DID.
God bless Rush Limbaugh!
My mom recently celebrated her 80th birthday, my dad his 87th, and this year marked their 61st wedding anniversary! God blessed ME with wonderful parents ... I am grateful!
Very cool! Congratulations! :^) Give him a kiss for me!
I remember hearing Mick, unfortunately I was never able to exactly pinpoint where he was, but he was a hoot.