The Ottumwa Courier

January 28, 2013

Area towns to host RAGBRAI

Oskaloosa, Fairfield welcome cyclists to southeast Iowa

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OSKALOOSA — Nearly six months before the big event, RAGBRAI announced which towns would host riders during one of the overnights on the state-spanning trip.

Locally, the mayors of Fairfield and Oskaloosa said they’d need the time to get ready.

“We’re going to be a stop on RAGBRAI, and we’re very excited about that,” said Mayor Ed Malloy of Fairfield.

It’s been something like 15 years since the event last visited the city, he said, adding that’s part of “why we’re very excited about it.”

The town’s leaders had believed they were in the running for host town three years ago during a southerly route, but had so much construction going on, understood when the ride bypassed them.

“I think now we’re ready to play host again,” Malloy said.

Mayor David Krutzfeldt of Oskaloosa fondly remembers when the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa came through around 10 years ago.

“I heard about [the announcement Sunday] morning on my phone and realized it’s a ‘Go.’ Immediately you’re ecstatic, about that energy they bring, about thousands of people coming to your town, to gather around your square. Then, you realize — We need to start getting ready. They’re all going to want something to eat, something to do, showers, we need to make sure we provide electricity, get the word out to people who want to host [riders].”

He said even when one person comes to Oskaloosa, residents want to know they’ve had a good visit.

“We’ll have to scale that up for an event like this,” Krutzfeldt said.

He knows in his community, churches and other groups will want to participate in showing hospitality to riders. He said he believes the police department and the sheriff’s department will work together to help with the effort to see that “as soon as riders cross into Mahaska County, we can make sure it’ll be a pleasurable trip from Knoxville into Oskaloosa.”

After all, he said, there’s a lot Oskaloosa residents want to show off about their community. Fairfield, too, said Malloy, is looking forward to the event.

“Most people remember it is a lot of work,” he said, “but the payoff is the opportunity to showcase our community and be part of this fun, annual event that draws people from all over the world.”