The CBC's Ryan Hicks travelled to North Dakota and Minnesota last week to find out what Manitobans living in the U.S. think of the American election.

While on the road, Hicks visited this Democratic Party rally in Wyndmere, North Dakota, on Oct. 30, to observe a political rally in the U.S. This is his account of the event.

Beer, chili and country music.

No, it is not a tailgate party. It was the last big push for North Dakota's Democrats before election day.

They are a rare breed. North Dakotans last voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 1964, and it's happened only five times in the state's history.

North Dakotans have elected a Republican governor seven of the last 10 times.

But Democrats do have one glimmer of blue in the sea of red — a U.S. senate seat currently held by Democrat Kent Conrad. He has retired and now Heidi Heitkamp, a former attorney general, is campaigning for the seat.

But the fight to retain the seat is tight. Polls show the two candidates are neck-and-neck.

Retired farmer Rena Stallman said there is a lot at stake for her party. If Heitkamp loses the seat, "it will take a long time to build up [the party] again," she said.

So in Schmit's Shop, the garage for a local house moving company, Democratic organizers pulled out all the stops to rev up their electorate and get out the vote.

On the work tables lining the walls, tools were replaced with slow-cookers full of chili that local women began preparing early in the day.

A country band played cover songs as a steady stream of local supporters arrived in advance of the candidates they came to cheer on.

Want to dance with the photogenic man running for governor against the Republican incumbent? Step right up, but you have to make a donation and promise to vote.

Rock star treatment

The approximately 150 people in attendance formed a line that snaked around the room, wanting their fair share of chili on a baked potato, with all the fixings, dessert squares and cake.

Each time a candidate walked through the door, supporters greeted them with screams of joy. Rock star treatment.

The candidate who got the most rousing welcome was Heitkamp. It was also her birthday, hence dozens of cookies and a couple of birthday cakes emblazoned with her name.

Democrats here have acknowledged their opponents are out-fundraising them, which is why Heitkamp says these local events matter.

"One-to-one campaigning matters. Every day, hugging out and hoping we win in the end," she said.

But making money matters too, which was why we saw them doing anything they could do fill their coffers: the dances for donations, the wicker donation bowls set out — complete with the name of each Democratic candidate running in the area — by the entrance, and last but not least, a pie auction.

Near the end of the rally, Ron Braaten, a retired principal, lifelong Democrat and auctioneer, took the stage and called out for bids with as much gusto as an auctioneer calling for bids on a Picasso painting at Sotheby's in New York City.

As he asked supporters to fork over upwards of $100 or $200, a woman paraded around the front of the stage with the pie in one hand showing it off.

"We've got pies to move, let's go! We gotta make some money," Braaten yelled, full of the hope that the efforts organizers made to give these supporters a down-home, political rally, spreads to others and into the voting booth.