The 2017 Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI will be kicking off in just a couple of months.
The starting location isn’t far from the Sioux Empire, in Orange City Iowa.
“Down here this block will be one entrance for our beer garden,” says Orange City Chamber of Commerce executive director Mike Hofman as he points out where the festivities will take place. “Our main stage will be over in that corner .”
Downtown Orange City may be calm right now.
But come July 22, more than 25,000 people, which is four times Orange City’s population, from all over the world will be filling the streets for the kickoff of the 45th annual RAGBRAI event.
“I’ve talked to people in Germany, southeast Asia, South America and England,” says Hofman.
Hofman says hosting the upcoming events is a huge opportunity.
It will showcase to thousands what Orange City has to offer.
“We have a Dutch front store program that the city implemented which makes our downtown very unique,” says Hofman.
And it could pedal a huge economic impact.
“One of the things they tell you about an hour after RAGBRAI announces that were they’re go-in, the phone starts ringing in the hotels,” says Hofman. “Those are full. We expect our outlining restaurants to have a great weekend that weekend. Certainly our downtown businesses will have exposure.”
The northwest Iowa town is no stranger to RAGBRAI.
It’s been along the route before, but never the start of it.
Hofman says this requires a little more hands-on-deck.
“We have close to 200 volunteers volunteering and working right now and that will only continue to grow as we get farther into the process.”
Volunteers who are getting ready to set up more than 80 vendors, bouncy houses, beer gardens and create a stage for live music.
“It’s definitely a lot of work, but we are really excited for the opportunity,” says Hofman.
After taking off in Orange City on July 23, the riders will head east.
They’ll travel more than 400 miles over the course of a week ending in Lansing.