It’s hard to imagine anyone who calls Iowa home who does not know about RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. During the last nearly half century, this annual seven-day bicycle ride has become one of the most noted and treasured events of summer in the Hawkeye State.
This past week, Fort Dodge served as one of the overnight host cities for RAGBRAI. It is with great pride that we can say that our town’s officials and its citizens did a superb job of welcoming the thousands of cyclists and other visitors. Hosting such a huge endeavor wouldn’t be easy any year. But in 2021, as we all are emerging from the coronavirus pandemic, it was an especially great challenge.
Even so, seeing so many bicycle enthusiasts enjoy an evening featuring impressive local live entertainers and an array of tempting foods helped dispel the low spirits that the long fight against COVID has made so common. We’re not quite back to normal, but Monday’s festivities sure made it feel like the good times are coming back quickly.
Hosting RAGRAI overnight is a huge project. It requires a community whose civic leaders and citizens are able to mobilize initiative and hard work. Fortunately, Fort Dodge is a town populated by a large number of public-spirited individuals who are ready to be called upon to populate the substantial ranks of volunteers needed to pull off so substantial an event as welcoming the RAGBRAI multitude.
We’re pleased that so many Fort Dodgers made an exceptional effort to showcase our hometown at its best. The decorated windows along Central Avenue were an especially nice touch. It’s also wonderful that the long renovation of the Webster County Courthouse has made it a striking centerpiece for an event centered on downtown. That investment in the future is very much in synch with this community’s determination to make the decades ahead the best ones yet for this town and county.
As is so often the case when big projects succeed, it’s not possible to thank by name everyone who made a significant contribution. We think, however, that it would be remiss not to praise four members of the local RAGBRAI Executive Committee: Neven Conrad, a member at large of the Fort Dodge City Council, Niki Conrad, a Webster County supervisor, who is Neven’s sister, Capt. Ryan Gruenberg, of the Fort Dodge Police Department, and Ryan Maehl, assistant to the Fort Dodge city manager. They showed the leadership and commitment to prevail that was crucial to making RAGBRAI’s time in Fort Dodge an overwhelming triumph.
The Messenger thanks all those Fort Dodgers who made RAGRAI’s time in Fort Dodge, what we hope will be a highlight of the ride for many of the bicyclists who spent the day here.
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