SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — A voice from the West fired up Illinois Democrats on their day at the Illinois State Fair on Wednesday.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer told story upon story as the keynote speaker at both the noon-hour rally for Governor’s Day at the state fair and at a county chairmen’s brunch at a Springfield hotel.

He said the most beloved Canadian in history is not hockey player Wayne Gretzky, but, rather, the politician who initiated universal health care.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports

The leader of the party, chairman and House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), did not attend.

But both Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) denied it’s a snub to anybody. Madigan spokesman Steve Brown cited family time out of state, adding, “If somebody wants to make something out of it, it must be a slow day.”

Cullerton showed off his comedy chops during his time on stage at the fair, telling a story about trying to milk a bull – “I had a friend for life” – and then what he called a joke: “Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll.”

Republican Day at the fair is Thursday.

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