Once every election cycle when there's no incumbent, Republican presidential hopefuls descend on Ames, Iowa, for a media-saturated straw poll where they woo potential supporters with food and festivities. The nonbinding vote, a traditional early test of candidates' viability in the nation's leadoff caucus state, doubles as a fundraiser for the Iowa GOP. It has faced criticism over the years for its tendency to bring out social conservative activists who may not represent the party at large. In 1987, televangelist Pat Robertson finished first at the event before his bid faltered. These photos are from this weekend's shindig, where Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann took top honors, followed by the libertarian-leaning GOP Rep. Ron Paul.
Photographer Joe Scott, an Ames native currently based in Minneapolis, returned home for a lighthearted take on his town's brief moment in the national spotlight.