What the locals had to say
Wed, 08/02/2017 - 1:16pm admin
Marcie Klomp News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
CRESCO - “I’ve heard numerous compliments on our organization and hospitality. For everyone who’s volunteered, I can’t thank the community enough for stepping forward,” said Jason Passmore, Director of Howard County Business & Tourism and Executive Board member.
One of those volunteers was Missy Hvitved, who was a co-chair, with Kathy Rice, on the Food and Vendors Committee. When a person says they are too busy to help out, Hvitved is one of those who can raise her hand, jump up and down and say, “That’s me!”
But what she says instead is, “What can I do to help?” Hvitved has three kids, ages eight, six and one, and with her husband, Aaron, riding in RAGBRAI this week, that is enough to say, “I’m busy.” But just like many other community cheerleaders, she is willing to take on a leadership role. In addition to all that, she was hosting Aaron’s team, plus another one!
She is thankful for her family, who helped with babysitting and taking care of the house. “This is why it’s great to live in a small town. The majority of the people I know, were either on a committee, working at RAGBRAI, serving others or a business owner. It’s giving spirit is what’s great about Cresco.”
• Kelly McCarville, co-chair, with Dean Lickteig, of entertainment, spent some time with four special VIPs.
Enjoying the atmosphere and music on Thursday were Lance Armstrong (bicyclist), Jimmie Johnson (Nascar), Matt Kenseth (Nascar) and Ryan Dungey (Motocross/ Supercross).
McCarville shared, “Everything went great. They came up on stage between Six to Midnight and Rock Godz, then hung backstage for two-and-a-half hours. They had a blast and are looking forward to 2018.”
T.J. Juskiewicz, director for RAGBRAI®, told McCarville some of the VIPs have been on the ride in the past, but never stayed in the overnight town or spent time with people. “They were able to get away from their celebrity lives for a while.”
The other acts were also well-attended.
• Jennalee Pedretti, information chair, noted, “It required about 180 volunteer hours to man the information centers. A lot of questions were about free wi-fi, coffee shops, how to get to the campground they were staying at, water refill stations and where is there a good place to eat.”
• Jeff Wilson is a strong advocate of families. He put up a super-sized mobile filled with bicycles, representing the different ages and sizes of family members. It was displayed along the bike trail, just west of Fareway. The bikes are all retired ones from his family.
• Public Works Director Rod Freidhof stated, “Everything went smooth. I had a great group of volunteers manning the intersections. I was told that some of the riders actually stopped to watch Chops (Jeff Henderson) work at the intersection (because of his personality).”
He went on to say, “I went for a drive around 6:30 Thursday night, and the charters I talked to were very happy with how organized we were. I think we were above average for organization.” Freidhof also felt having Cresco’s 150th last year helped prepare the town for RAGBRAI.
• Darrel Andera repeated, “People said, ‘Everybody in Iowa is nice.’” He had a group from Kentucky staying in his yard, who stated they shut Protivin down.
He also mentioned how everyone was on their best behavior. “Vendors and riders were impressed with our setup.”
• Wendy Bohr, chairperson of the lasagna supper at Notre Dame Church, was happy to report she heard only good things about the food. “I had hundreds say this was the best meal they’ve had yet this year. One person said it was the best meal they had in the 20 years they’ve been riding.”
One-third of the meals were vegetarian. When only veggie lasagna was left, people said that was the best lasagna with or without meat they had ever had!
No wonder the visitors appreciated the meal. Bohr made sure the portions were good-sized and included peach/blueberry cobbler or brownie, French bread and assorted salads . . . all for $10!
• Spirits Garden chairman Kris Riley noted of those partaking of spirits, “We had countless ‘thank you’s’ and positive comments from riders and their crew on how good Cresco looked and welcomed them!”
• Shirley Sovereign along with husband, Dave, had the seemingly impossible job of trying to find housing (not campground) for registered RAGBRAI® riders. The committee was able to make sure 100 percent of registered riders who requested housing found it over one week before the big event.
Shirley shared, “We set up the housing for Team Tall Dog at Duane and Cindy Omar’s home. There are 130 members of the Tall Dogs. One rider on this team had been looking for a jewelry store along the ride so he could propose to his girlfriend, but most had been closed when they came through the towns.
“In Cresco, he went to Holstrom’s and also found it closed. A local standing nearby told him the owner was right next door at The Pub. So he found Jim Holstrom, who opened the jewelry store. The gentleman bought an engagement ring and proposed to his girlfriend in camp at the Omar’s that evening. She said, ‘Yes!’ Only in small town Iowa!”
Another success story was when housing placed Team Ibuprofen at Johnie and Carol Vobr’s home. Mike, the support person, said he had been arranging housing for this team for 16 years and he’s never had such wonderful, accommodating hosts. They fed the team, gave them gift bags, goody bags for the ride the next morning and took care of their every need. They were very appreciative and enjoyed their evening in Cresco.
• Larry Trende, Facilities Director at Howard-Winneshiek was pleased with the RAGBRAI® experience. “The support personnel started showing up at 8 a.m., and we had showers for people until 10 p.m. Some said it was the first hot shower they had all week.”
Tents were set up on the K-8 and high school grounds. Trende was happy with the grounds after the groups left on Friday morning, saying they were clean.
Showers were $5.00 each with $2.00 for a donated towel. Guests could leave the towel or take it. Many left it. The towels were then washed and dried for the next group. Trende estimated 30 percent used the donated towels. Money raised from showers will go toward facilities.
• Sheriff Mike Miner was pleased with how well things went in all of Howard County.
Besides having two arrests, one OWI in Protivin and one public intoxication in Cresco, there were only a couple of minor accidents. Neither arrest was from Howard County.
“I was told by someone there were actually 15,000-20,000 riders (not to mention support personnel). With that amount of people, I’m surprised how well it went. The people were friendly with law enforcement. The citizens of Howard County put on a good show for them.”
Miner talked to one person who lives in New Jersey and works in New York. He has to package up his bicycle and have it shipped to Omaha to get with his group. When the ride is over, he has to package it up again to send it back home. Seems like a lot of trouble for a bike ride, but he said after living and working on the east coast, traveling across Iowa is great.
• Katie Ferrie, Executive Chairperson for Publicity, Hospitality and Information, was very pleased with how things turned out.
“I heard from several riders that Cresco had their favorite theme of the week. They loved the decorations, the t-shirts and how friendly our town was. So many wonderful compliments. The community came together to orchestrate a wonderful event for the estimated 24,000 riders (this number was from RAGBRAI officials). We are so thankful for the hundreds of volunteers who worked to make the day a great success. Everyone should be proud of their efforts!”
Ferrie was stuck doing administrative duties, as well as helping at the Information Center, which left her family to help with the fun things!
“My children (Audrey and Ava) had an absolute blast being zombies with my dad (Alan Schatz). They directed people and just had a great time. My dad is on the theatre commission and really enjoyed telling people all about the theatre. My children were so excited to meet celebrities right here in Cresco. Fun to see RAGBRAI through their eyes . . . .an event they will never forget! And neither will I.”
Although Ferrie was busy on Thursday, she and her crew were up early on Friday morning to say farewell to the riders. “Thanks for coming. See you in the afterlife!”