DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republicans in Iowa are ready to decide whether to carry on this summer with their presidential straw poll, a political tradition that critics decry as a sideshow.

Despite criticism from some prominent Republicans, the Republican Party of Iowa's central committee appears likely to keep the event going when they meet Saturday morning in Des Moines to decide its fate.

Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said this week that he had "a hunch" the party will keep the poll.

First conducted in 1979, the Iowa straw poll has grown from a county GOP fundraiser stop to a large event on the Iowa State University campus, where candidates spend heavily to entertain supporters.