Note: The following letters were submitted to the Denison Review before the Crawford County Board of Supervisors reversed direction to allow vending in the unincorporated portions of Crawford County during RAGBRAI.
Interaction with all walks of life is what makes RAGBRAI unique
I was very excited to learn earlier this year that RAGBRAI was returning to Denison once again. I come back home to Iowa every other year to ride RAGBRAI, and to see it coming back to the place where I grew up was a wonderful thing to hear.
One of the reasons I love RAGBRAI is that it allows me to return to my roots, to visit towns in Iowa I had never made it to in the 23 years I lived in the state, and it makes me realize that I took my small-town upbringing for granted.
While most of the hustle and bustle of RAGBRAI takes place within the towns along the route, the vendors that place themselves along the route between the towns are just as valuable.
I understand the need for oversight, and in some cases, police power at some of these sites. I think it is completely fair that the county regulate the vendors to some extent. I believe this has been done successfully elsewhere in Iowa, and I encourage you to reach out to your peer counties for model regulations and fee structures. Public safety of riders should be the number one concern of the county.
RAGBRAI is a one of a kind event that is etched into the fabric of America. There is nothing else like it in the United States, although many states have tried to replicate it. What makes RAGBRAI so special and genuine is the interaction of people from all walks of life, from all across the United States (and world) with the farm families of Iowa.
Matt Ludwig, Philadelphia, PA, formerly Vail, IA
Rural vendors one of the joys of riding in RAGBRAI
One of the joys of RAGBRAI is riding through Iowa’s countryside and pulling over at a farm to buy a bottle of Gatorade, eat brownies baked in the kitchen or ice cream from a commercial vendor. In many cases, the towns are simply too packed and usually don’t have enough seating capacity to allow you to enjoy a break.
Depending on the temperature, there are times when a rider needs bottled water, a sports drink or just a spot in the shade available at a farmstead stand. In all seriousness, it can be a safety issue.
If you want to specifically prohibit a craft beer tent, do so. But consider the impact your ordinance will have on other vendors and out of state riders trying to get a taste of Iowa.
In my opinion, your ordinance is one of the most ill-advised actions adversely affecting RAGBRAI that I have experienced on multiple rides.
Convince me it isn’t a simple money grab!
I will gladly ride through Crawford County, stopping only when absolutely necessary for water, happily watching Crawford County pass in my mirror. I determine how I spend my vacation dollars and will have no problem severely limiting my spending in your county.
Tom Scanlin, Shelby Township, Michigan
Manning native disappointed with “no rural vendor” ordinance
I’m a native of Manning and I’m very disappointed in the ‘no rural vendor’ ordinance that was recently passed. People on the bike ride just want to ride and rest periodically in the countryside.
Iowa is a rural state and what better way to showcase the beauty of the rural setting than to rest in the shade of a farmstead. Riders support both the local church groups, FFA organizations, Scouts and individuals residing in the county as well as the traveling vendors that travel daily along the route.
The actions of Crawford County that are restricting access to food and beverage along the route and between the towns is draconian, ill informed, ‘anti-good-time’ and against the traditions of the ride. This edict should be reversed.
It would also certainly send a message to the counties, if the riders and support drivers of the bike ride planned to supply their own food and picnic the first two days and to also BYOB with their support teams. With advance planning they could vow to not purchase fuel in those counties. This protest would be made more evident to the sellers if the people who boycott would make small flyers to hand to the stations and vendors stating. “As a protest to your county’s decision to restrict vendors along the route, we will not be making any purchases in your county or city. We’re sorry but perhaps your government officials can recognize the adverse consequences of their actions.”
Jon Ahrendsen, Clarion