[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/21/art.palin.closeup.jpg caption="Palin will return to Iowa in September."](CNN) - Sarah Palin is set to headline the Iowa Republican Party's annual Ronald Reagan Dinner on September 17, the former Alaska governor's first political visit to the leadoff caucus state since she traveled there as John McCain's running mate in 2008.
The trip comes at an opportune moment for Palin, who has flexed her muscle this midterm cycle by successfully backing a number of conservative candidates in closely-watched GOP primaries nationwide, and is guaranteed to heighten speculation about a possible 2012 presidential bid.
Palin's visit was first reported by TheIowaRepublican.com on Monday evening and confirmed by the Republican Party of Iowa on Tuesday morning.
The Des Moines fundraiser is also certain to be a huge draw for the Iowa Republican Party, which is looking this November to re-capture the governor's mansion along with majorities in the state Senate and House.
Iowa GOP officials were eyeing Palin for the dinner as early as this spring, and landing the former Alaska governor is something of a coup, in part because Palin has until now largely resisted invitations to appear at party events in the crucial presidential nominating states.
Like other major fundraising dinners in key states, the featured speaker is often the subject of presidential buzz. Past headliners at the Reagan Dinner include Mitt Romney, who spoke in 2004, and Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson, who attended in 2007.
But the event has also hosted several leading Republicans who flirted with presidential bids but decided against running, such as former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and former New York Governor George Pataki.
Palin visited Iowa late last year, for a book signing as part of her national book tour for "Going Rogue: An American Life."