KAMRAR - Webster City isn't the only Hamilton County community that will host bicyclists taking part in RAGBRAI - the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. The riders will pass through Stratford on July 24 if they take part in the Karras Loop. And after a night in Webster City, Kamrar and Jewell will host the riders as they travel on towards Marshalltown.
The thought of a town of just 200 hosting perhaps as many as 20,000 riders is a daunting one, according to members of the Kamrar RAGBRAI committee.
"It's going to be good, but it's a big undertaking for a town of 200," said Lori Isvik, Kamrar city clerk.
- Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Anne Blankenship
Kamrar Mayor Jeanette Tempel, left, and Lori Isvik, Kamrar city clerk, work on the volunteer schedule for July 25 when RAGBRAI riders will pass through the small Hamilton County community.
Finding enough volunteers to man booths and welcome the guests can be difficult. Mayor Jeanette Tempel said she has just over 30 people signed up to serve breakfast to the hungry riders. The committee was meeting Monday night, checking off details and pairing up volunteers with duties.
"You've got the county fair and the little league tournament all going on at once," she said. "We rely on the kids to help with events like this, but they're all tied up that week."
"It would be much easier if this was happening on the weekend," Isvik said.
"It's been a bit of a challenge, but I still believe it's going to work out and be fun for everyone," Tempel said.
The riders will come into Kamrar by way of County Road R-38. They'll turn by the Post Office and pass right by the park. The riders will start arriving early - perhaps 5:30 or 6 a.m. But volunteers will start preparations much earlier. Some of the cooks will begin preparing the meals as early as 3 a.m. and others will arrive to help with set up before sunrise, the committee members said.
Three different locations in the small community will offer the riders breakfast. The Kamrar Lions will serve pancakes - all you care to eat - along with sausage, orange juice and milk. Kamrar's youth organizations will serve breakfast bowls, featuring local peppered bacon, biscuits and gravy, cinnamon rolls, fruit and drinks as well as homemade pie. Proceeds from that booth will go towards Northeast Hamilton athletics, the Kamrar Komets 4-H club and Kamrar Park and Recreation. Pickles Pub will also be serving drink specials and breakfast pizza.
This isn't the first time RAGBRAI has passed through the community. Back in the 1980s, the community came together as bike riders passed through, heading north to Dows.
"We have a lot of green space where the riders can hang out and have breakfast, and we'll have some entertainment by local performers," Isvik said. "We'll also have a phone bank and some limited Wi-Fi near the telephone office."
"We're a fun, friendly little town," Isvik said. "We'll have good food and friendly people."
"This is a laid back, relaxing little community," Tempel said.
"This just shows small towns can still survive. We may not have a lot, but what we do have is important to us,"?she said.