Former Vice President Joe Biden makes remarks at the Iowa State Fair Political Soapbox in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
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Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Six months ahead of the Democratic Iowa caucuses, the first key vote in next year's presidential primary campaign, most of the party's challengers will appear at the state's fair in the coming days, beginning Thursday.
More than 20 candidates are set to attend the Iowa State Fair, and will deliver keynote addresses in what's considered one of the most important early stumping locations.
Starting Thursday, the 11-day fair has proved an important stepping stone in the past for successful candidates like Dwight Eisenhower and Donald Trump, and stumbling blocks for failed contenders like Joe Biden and Mitt Romney.
A total of 23 Democrats are scheduled to participate at the fair's so-called "soapbox" speeches, which annually garner millions of visitors from the Midwest, the greater United States and other nations, according to the festival organizers.
Eisenhower began the tradition in 1954, 100 years after the fair first opened, and the brief speeches delivered from small stages there have since become a major staple of the presidential election cycle.
Trump elected not to make a soapbox speech in 2016 but famously arrived at the Des Moines fairgrounds in a helicopter, and offered rides to attendees on the same day chief rival Hillary Clinton was also present.
The fair was also the site where Romney infamously stated "corporations are people" in response to a heckler, during his 2012 campaign against then-incumbent Barack Obama.
All candidates from both major parties were invited to appear, but only Trump and Democratic candidate Wayne Messam are not on the schedule. Republican challenger and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld will be the only Republican hopeful at the event.
Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke had been set to appear, but decided against it Wednesday -- to remain in El Paso, where more than 20 people died in a shooting attack last weekend.
The Democratic Iowa caucuses will be held Feb. 3.
The 23 candidates are scheduled to deliver their soapbox speeches on the following dates (all times Central):
Thursday, Aug. 8
12:45 p.m.: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock
1:30 p.m.: Former Vice President Joe Biden
Friday, Aug. 9
9 a.m.: Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro
10:30 a.m.: Businessman Andrew Yang
12 p.m. Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney
1:30 p.m.: Author Marianne Williamson
2:15 p.m.: Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Saturday, Aug. 10
9 a.m.: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
10:30 a.m.: California Sen. Kamala Harris
11:15 a.m.: Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan
12:45 p.m.: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
1:30 p.m.: Former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak
2:15 p.m.: New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
3 p.m.: Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
3:45 p.m.: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
4:30 p.m.: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
Sunday, Aug. 11
11:15 a.m.: Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld
1:30 p.m.: Businessman Tom Steyer
3 p.m.: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet
3:45 p.m.: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
4:30 p.m.: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
Tuesday, Aug. 13
1:30 p.m.: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Saturday, Aug. 17
12 p.m.: Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton