Communities, parishes ‘gear up’ for RAGBRAI event


The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) XLVI will start in Onawa and end in Davenport this year.

Many parishes in the Diocese of Sioux City are in towns along the RAGBRAI route and have made plans to welcome the riders.


As the start city for RAGBRAI, Onawa will have several activities before the riders embark on their journey across the state.RAGBRAI Onawa

Father Michael Erpelding, pastor at St. John Church in Onawa, will celebrate Mass at 6 p.m. on July 21, the day before the ride begins.

He pointed out “the phone has been ringing off the hook” and there has been high demand for people wanting to have a Saturday evening Mass.

The parish is planning a pulled pork dinner to be served from 3 to 8 p.m. The Knights of Columbus will have a food booth open at the fairgrounds on July 20 and 21.

“We are providing hospitality and a chance to provide funds for the church,” said Father Erpelding.

On July 22, riders will go through Turin, Soldier, Moorhead (optional), Ute and Charter Oak on the way to Denison.

In Charter Oak, Briar Cliff University will have an alumni tent. They will be there at 8 a.m. for BCU alumni to stop, grab a cold drink and a snack and catch up with their BCU favorites. The yellow tent will be located on Main Street with a Briar Cliff University banner. Briar Cliff alumni and friends of the university are welcome.


The first overnight stop will be in Denison. St. Rose of Lima Church will host a few groups in the parish center and possibly in the classrooms in the education center.

RAGBRAI Denison Logo“Once they (the riders) find out where the route is going to be, they immediately start looking for places to stay,” said Ann Klein, secretary/bookkeeper at St. Rose of Lima. “We have been in contact with people the day it was announced.”

Bishop Tom Zinkula of the Davenport Diocese, who is participating in the ride across the state, will celebrate Mass at 6 p.m. on July 22 at St. Rose of Lima Church in Denison.

A chicken noodle supper will be served before and after Mass until 7 or 7:30 p.m. The meal will include chicken noodle soup, salad, homemade dessert and a drink.

“It is an opportunity to raise some money for the school and parish,” said Klein. “The people staying here have said they will help clean up, because they want to get to bed.”

On July 23, from Denison riders will go through Aspinwall, Manning, Templeton, Dedham, Coon Rapids and Scranton on their way to Jefferson, the next overnight stop.

The Ladies Guild from St. Joseph’s in Dedham is joining with the Dedham Go-Getters 4-H Club and the Dedham Legion Auxiliary to provide homemade pie, ice cream, root beer floats, watermelon and possibly water.

Julie Hoffman, St. Joseph’s Ladies Guild president, noted the groups wanted “to provide a place for rest and refreshment in a cool, calm environment.”

“We have joined forces with the other groups in the hopes of showing that we can work in harmony with other groups and provide the bikers with a rest that we assume they will be needing,” she said. “The Dedham community is proud of their predominate Catholic faith and want to show that to our biking visitors.”

Annunciation Parish in Coon Rapids, the noon stop, will be selling homemade pie and ice cream. Ten years ago, RAGBRAI went through Coon Rapids for the first time and this is what the parish sold.

According to Brenda Heithoff, Annunciation Ladies Guild secretary, it went over so well that they sold out of pie. They thought this would be a good thing to have again for the riders.

“One unique thing about small towns is the homemade food from scratch,” said Heithoff. “It seems to be very successful.”


St. Joseph Church in Jefferson will provide overnight accommodations on the church grounds for several groups of riders.RAGBRAI-Jeff-logo-219x300

“We have one of the biggest open lots in town, so we are housing a lot of people outside,” said Amy Roberts, bookkeeper/secretary at St. Joseph’s. “St. Joseph Church will be an emergency shelter in case of weather or other circumstances.”

Bishop Zinkula will celebrate Mass at 6 p.m. on July 23 at St. Joseph Church in Jefferson.

A lasagna dinner will be served from 4:30 to 8 p.m. The cost is $10 per plate and includes lasagna, garlic bread, salad, dessert and drink. The proceeds will go to the parish.

The next morning, July 24, the Knights of Columbus will be serving a cold breakfast for the riders.

“It is always good to show hospitality and show off our community to outside people,” said Roberts. “It’s a lot for a small town to host so many people. It takes all hands-on deck. All the churches (in town) are serving some sort of a meal. There will be entertainment and a welcome booth for everyone to check in and see what there is to do in Jefferson.”

For more information about RAGBRAI and the events in each of the overnight towns, visit ragbrai.com.

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