UKIP leader Nigel Farage was slated to speak alongside US right-wing stalwarts Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz on Thursday.
But when it was Farage's time to speak, it appeared much of the audience had other plans. They were elsewhere, drinking.
Organisers of the conference, held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Maryland, said Farage's message would resonate with the conservative audience.
"Farage has been one of the most influential voices in the fight for a free democracy, promotion of free-market capitalism, and defending the right of every citizen to support himself and his family," Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union told Breitbart News.
Eventually, the size of the audience grew to about 250 people, in a 5,000-seat hall.
Raf Sanchez, a reporter for the Daily Telegraph, said that those who did attend the speech appeared to respond positively to the British politician.
Farage's spokesperson said he was always expecting a fairly small audience.
He claimed the crowd had thinned because several receptions had begun by the time Farage was scheduled to speak.
"We expected a couple of hundred," said Raheem Kassam in an email to BuzzFeed News. "If you're familiar with CPAC you know lots of receptions start at 6pm.
"If you don't know the conference very well, you might expect 5,000 in a hall during happy hour. But serious journalists would know what they are looking at."
The visit, he added, was productive for the campaign.
"The trip wasn't based primarily around the speech. We got a LOT done," Kassam said. "The speech was the cherry on top of a very large cake."