The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

July 26, 2013

Fairfield hosts Iowa's biggest party with RAGBRAI


Between the two areas was the Peru Amateur Circus, an obvious tie-in with the “Cirque de Fairfield” theme. Two large trampolines usually had two or three aerialists bounding between platforms. Behind them were a handful of jugglers keeping their clubs in the air.

That scene played out for hours in front of the At Home Store, where Rosie Witherspoon shifted the business hours for the day. She said she does the same when the Art Walk is going on since open stores on the square offer a better ambiance and, of course, the chance for more sales.

“When you own a business, what you really love is meeting people, and you really love it when people come from out of town,” she said.

And few things in Iowa draw out-of-town visitors as effectively as RAGBRAI.

Witherspoon compared the atmosphere to the holidays. Yes, business goes up and that's always good. But people were in a good mood as well, ready to relax and celebrate as a community.

“It's blissful. It's like Christmas,” she said.

The feeling more like a party later in the evening, when Fairfield attempted to use RAGBRAI as a springboard to shatter the world record for the most people wearing fake mustaches. The line to participate stretched for blocks and, assuming organizers followed the rules, Fairfield obliterated the old record.

Joelle Hess, of Lancaster, Pa., was one of the participants. When asked why a 13-year-old would do such a thing, Hess admitted being able to tell classmates she helped set a world record was a factor.

This was Hess' first RAGBRAI. She enjoyed it.

“I think it's kind of like a giant block party,” she said.

When the crowd roared and did the wave while wearing mustaches, it was easy to see she was right.


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