The dust has settled in River City, but the work continues.
The Register’s annual bike ride through Iowa has come and gone, and RAGBRAI Mason City is taking time to reflect on July 27 and filing its notes for the next time the ride rolls through town.
“We feel really good about the event we put on and extremely positive about how Mason City was represented during this event,” said Visit Mason City Executive Director and RAGBRAI Advisory Member Lindsey James.
Mason City was the fourth day of riding – Emmetsburg to Mason City – and the longest stretch at 105 miles. It was called the “Day of the Century”, a tradition of having a 100-mile day that returned to RAGBRAI this year.
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As the midpoint for the ride, RAGBRAI Mason City planned to go big with two headliners and more than 50 food vendors and booths. Organizers also had to manage six campsites, coordinate volunteers and many other factors.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the riders. The RAGBRAI team was very positive about the experience we’ve provided here,” said James.
According to James, RAGBRAI Mason City estimates 30,000 people came to town during the overnight stop. An estimated $4.6 million was generated that day, but that number is still being tallied. James is hoping to get actual figures from RAGBRAI, but isn’t sure when that information will be released.
Wednesday’s 100-mile route meant a long day of riding, and many riders were disappointed that they didn’t have enough time to see all of Mason City’s attractions.
“While they probably didn’t have time that morning to go catch any of this, it was definitely on their radar and that’s one of the objectives of doing events like this,” James said.
RAGBRAI Mason City has conducted a survey of local businesses to hear their thoughts on the event. Some businesses were more directly impacted by RAGBRAI visitors than others, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“One hundred percent of respondents so far have said they would support future efforts to bring back RAGBRAI,” James said.
The biggest challenge RAGBRAI Mason City faced was recruiting volunteers. There were plenty of volunteer spots available, which led to several attempts for people to help out on the day of the visit.
“(RAGBRAI) just came together. All the things that made us a little upset worked themselves out,” James said.
Most of the volunteers who helped out had a good time and many ended up helping out longer because they were having fun. RAGBRAI volunteers will be honored with an appreciation event at The Music Man Square on Wednesday.
One upside for RAGBRAI Mason City is thinking of ways to extend the excitement into the next day when Mason City plays host again, James said.
Meetings are still being held for RAGBRAI Mason City to gather feedback and analyze best practices for when the ride returns. The final detail is to thank our community partners and individuals again for all their work on RAGBRAI.
“From the perspective of Visit Mason City, we are very excited that the events are back and excited to see this community come together and do great things. We are excited to attend great events again,” said James.
Abby covers education and entertainment for the Globe Gazette. Follow her on Twitter at @MkayAbby. Email it to [email protected]