DES MOINES, IOWA — Seventeen candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination on Saturday gathered for the Polk County Democratic Steak Fry in Water Works Park.

More than 12,000 Iowa Democrats were there to hear the candidates give their stump speeches, shake hands, pose for pictures and make their cases before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

The candidates pulled out all the stops to woo voters, with many marching into the park with hundreds of supporters chanting, singing and in some cases, dancing.

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro entered with a mariachi band, former Vice President Joe Biden had a drum line accompanying him, and Sen. Kamala Harris had a 50-strong troupe dancing to the pounding sounds of a drum line. Her parade stopped for two minutes for Harris to join in the dancing.

All the candidates participated in the steak fry tradition of grilling a mess of steaks — except for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who in a modern touch, grilled a veggie burger.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar celebrated her grilling ("Hey guys, I know what I'm doing" she said to the crowd) with a swig of beer from a plastic cup.

Topeka Capital-Journal columnist and Iowa Caucus analyst Bob Beatty was at the Steak Fry and his pictures capture the flavor of the day.