For the first time since 1992, one of Iowa’s biggest traditions, RAGBRAI, will be making a trip to Iowa’s southern most city.
Kirk Brandenberger, the Executive Director of the Keokuk Area Convention and Tourism Bureau, said this has actually been a process where RAGBRAI pursued Keokuk and not the other way around.
“T.J. Juskiewicz, who is the Executive Director of the RAGBRAI organization, has been after me for some years, actually, to come back to Keokuk. They really wanted to come back,” Brandenberger said.
Keokuk will serve as the last stop on the route, just as it did 27 years ago, and Brandenberger said one of the holdups of bringing it back was because of what happened in 1992.
He said many citizens got involved with it and may have expected it to be more like an overnight stop and rather the final location.
“They spend a lot of money in those towns,” Brandenberger said. “On the end of the tour, not so much. They’ve been on the tour for a week, they’re tired and ready to get home. So basically, they dip their tires in the Mississippi and leave.”
In the past, Brandenberger said there has not been the interest to bring the tour back, but things are different this year.
People from the Chamber of Commerce, the Keokuk Bike Club and other areas all expressed interest in wanting RAGBRAI to come back.
Juskiewicz said the renewed interest was a big reason whey they wanted to get back to Keokuk.
“It just seemed like the timing of it, with all of other towns lining up this year, made it doable,” Juskiewicz said.
Keokuk is one of eight stops on the tour along with Indianola, Centerville, Council Bluffs, Burlington, Fairfield, Winterset and Atlantic.
It can be a challenge sometimes to pick the route, but Juskiewicz said the goal every year is to pick eight great cities that want to host it and are different types of communities.
“We like to have variety, we don’t want to be in massive towns every single night,” Juskiewicz said. “RAGBRAI is really founded on visiting small towns in Iowa.”
While it may not be an overnight spot, Brandenberger said the committee will be very busy planning things for people to enjoy they when are in town.
He said it will bring a lot of exposure for the city and the announcement has gotten a lot of positive feedback.
“It’s a great feeling and it’s a way that we can come together to work on a project,” Brandenberger said.
He feels this time will be different than in 1992 because there is a new attitude in the town and a new respect for the city.
Brandenberger said it is great for Keokuk that RAGBRAI is coming back.
“It shows they want to showcase this town and that’s a good thing. It’s always a good thing,” Brandenberger said.
RAGBRAI will begin on July 21 in Council Bluffs and end in the Power City on July 27. Juskiewicz said he is very excited for the tour this year.
“When we can pick up a Winterset, when we can pick up a Keokuk, those are new and exciting towns,” Juskiewicz said.