By DUANE NOLLEN
The Oskaloosa Herald
Oskaloosa is getting ready to host 15,000 to 18,000 guests when RAGBRAI riders and their supporters roll into town on July 25.
Oskaloosa RAGBRAI planners held a town meeting Thursday evening to bring people up to speed on preparations for the overnight event.
“We’ve got a rare opportunity to show these people what Oskaloosa is all about,” Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt said.
Oskaloosa Police Chief John “Jake” McGee and Lt. Gary McClun announced the route the bicyclists will take arriving and leaving Oskaloosa.
On Thursday, July 25, bicyclists will travel through Beacon on Indian Way and enter Oskaloosa on 11th Avenue West and travel to South H Street. Then, they will take South H Street to High Avenue West. They will travel on High Avenue West to North I Street and then take that street to M Avenue West. Next, the bike riders will travel on M Avenue West to Green Street and then Green Street to Orchard Street. Their destination will be the Oskaloosa Elementary School grounds.
The riders will get up bright and early on Friday, July 26, to leave Oskaloosa. Their route will take them from Orchard Street to Green Street and then Green Street to M Avenue West. They will then enter North I Street and travel along the street to High Avenue West. They will take High Avenue West to South H Street and then travel to 11th Avenue West. They will ride down 11th Avenue West to South Market Street. The bicyclists will go down South Market Street to 15th Avenue East and go down that street to South 11th Street. From South 11th Street, they will proceed to 17th Avenue East and take it to Highway 23 South.
Several streets in Oskaloosa’s downtown will be closed off from 6 a.m. July 25 to 3 a.m. July 26. Downtown streets closed will be Market Street from A Avenue to Third Avenue; First Street from A Avenue to Third Avenue East; Second Street from A Avenue to Third Avenue East; High Avenue from Third Street to the Mall entrance; First Avenue from Third Street to alley in the 100 block of First Avenue West; and Second Avenue from Third Street to the alley in the 100 block of Second Avenue West.
McClun said area banks such as True Bank and the MidWestOne motor bank will have street access from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. On RAGBRAI Day.
Karen Hafner of the Oskaloosa Chamber said that city square businesses will have sidewalk access on RAGBRAI Day until 5 p.m.
So, when the riders arrive, where will they be camping?
Oskaloosa School Superintendent Russ Reiter is in charge of the Campground and Transportation Committee. He said there are eight official campgrounds. The Oskaloosa Elementary School/Lacey Complex will be the main campground with a first aid station and communications center. The second largest will be at Edmundson Park with 2,500 to 3,000 people expected to camp, he said. The next largest camping area will be the Oskaloosa High School/Middle School. Bikers also will camp at the old Community Stadium, and about 1,600 people will camp at the former Vennard College campus. Bikers also can camp at William Penn University, the Gateway Church of the Nazarene campus and the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds, he said.
Reiter said 11 school buses will be used to shuttle people from the campgrounds to the entertainment located downtown from noon to midnight. Also, buses will be used to transport bikers to shower facilities.
“It’s going to be a busy day,” Reiter said.
Volunteers are still needed to help on RAGBRAI Day. If people are interested in volunteering for RAGBRAI, they can fill out the volunteer registration form at www.oskyragbrai.com.
One area where more volunteers are needed is host families.
“We need a whole lot more host families,” said Linda Russell of the Housing Committee. She said between 400 and 500 people are expected to stay in people’s homes. Russell said there will be a decorating contest for host family homes. The homes will be judged on July 24 and on criteria such as the “Ride Hard, Dance Harder” theme, creativity or Osky pride.
Other areas that need a lot of volunteers are the beverage garden, and the information and hospitality committees.
Will RAGBRAI affect electronic media during its stay in Oskaloosa? It will, said Frank Hansen of the Communication Committee.
“Cellular service will be impacted the most,” he said. Hansen said U.S. Cellular and Verizon will increase their service for the day.
However, RAGBRAI will not have much impact on regular Internet service, Hansen said. MCG will establish five Wi Fi hot spots in the campgrounds for bikers to use.
Hansen said the members of the 20 committees coordinating RAGBRAI activities will communicate with portable two-way radios.
Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org