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What RAGBRAI means

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July 11, 2012
Kent Harfst - Director of recreation and public grounds for Webster City , The Daily Freeman Journal

As most of you know RAGBRAI (The Des Moines Register Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) will be spending the night in Webster City on July 24th. The only other time RAGBRAI was in Webster City was overnight in 1980 and as a pass through town in 1995 when it went from Fort Dodge to Iowa Falls. RAGBRAI means many different things to many different people.

RAGBRAI coming to Webster City can have a tremendous impact on our community. Economically, it is estimated that approximately $2,000,000.00 to $2,500,000.00 will be spent in Webster City during this 24 hour time period. The goal is to have a good portion of this money stay in Webster City and spent on local businesses, as well as the various groups that are using this as a fund raising opportunity.

In addition to the money being spent in Webster City, another goal is to present a very nice community with friendly people. We hope many of these visitors will have a favorable impression of Webster City. The Iowa Department of Economic Development is sponsoring a team of riders with entrepreneurs looking to find communities for their businesses. Who knows: if these entrepreneurs find Webster City a favorable community they might start a business here.

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Kent Harst

Ever since I started riding RAGBRAI with my brother over 20 years ago, I have realized it is the best way of seeing all of Iowa, including the beautiful landscape that varies in each part of the state. I have been very fortunate the past several years to include my two sons and father-in-law. We have experienced many great things during RAGBRAI. Some of these include:

Riding briefly with Lance Armstrong and listening to him speak in front of 50,000 persons in downtown Newton promoting Livestrong and cancer awareness.

Riding into Dyersville and playing a pick up baseball game at the "Field of Dreams" with my family and many other RAGBRAI riders.

Visiting Spillville in northeast Iowa and seeing the Bily Clocks museum and the upstairs apartment where famous Czech composer Antonin Dvorak spent the summer of 1893 writing music. In addition we toured the St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church and its cemetery that features old iron crosses as monuments.

In Macksburg (located in Madison County) we watched an exhibition of the National Skillet Throw Festival (ask my father-in-law what it feels like to be hit in the shoulder with a 3 pound frying pan).

In Villisca we rode our bikes to the house where the famous axe murders occurred 100 years ago this summer.

Visiting Christmas in July in Algona. The town created a winter carnival setting that included snow.

In Eagle Grove they displayed hundreds of classic and antique vehicles along the street.

Riding to the house of long time NBC Tonight Show Host Johnny Carson in Corning.

Andy Williams's boyhood home in Wall Lake.

Riding down a large hill into the beautiful Mississippi River town of Guttenberg on a tandem bicycle at 55 miles per hour.

Riding through Parkersburg a year after the devastating tornado destroyed many houses and seeing how the community (led by Coach Ed Thomas) worked together.

The feeling of dipping your front tire into the Mississippi River after starting along the Missouri River and riding every single mile along the route.

The people and the food are what we remember most on RAGBRAI. Each year we see old friends and make new friends as well. It confirms that most Iowans are honest, hard working persons who will let strangers into their house, use their showers, and maybe even wash a few loads of dirty clothes. I have camped and slept in many houses in which I never had met these persons before that day.

When RAGBRAI comes to Webster City we have a great opportunity to show approximately 20,000 people what a great community we have. Please help their visit become a fond memory they will have for many years.



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