Unless you are from Iowa you are probably asking just what the heck is RAGBRAI? Well RAGBRAI stands for Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, put on by the Des Moines Register. According to their website it is the "oldest, largest and longest multi-day bike ride in the world". It starts at the Missouri River and ends at the Mississippi River, lasts eight days long and every year they pick a different route.
This year was their 50th year and the route took it through our county and our County Seat also happened to be an overnight stay location. Imagine 29,000 bicycle riders and 10,000 support crew members spending the night in a community of 5,500 people! RAGBRAI also provides the participants with entertainment at each overnight stay. With this being the 50th Anniversary, the theme was the 1970's and the Headline acts for this years ride/festival were Spin Doctors, Spazmatics, Pork Tornadoes, Hairball, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bush and Foghat was the Headline act for our town. With that RAGBRAI also hires local bands to open up for the Headline acts. I was lucky enough to among those acts. What a day and experience that was. My slot was from 1:30pm - 3:00pm and of course it was also the hottest (100+ degrees) and most humid (70% humidity) of the week. The clouds and canopy over the stage did nothing to cut the heat or humidity. It was an awesome experience, but I have to be honest and say that I cut my set short by 3 songs, just so I could get off the stage and give my wobbly legs a rest! I immediately went to our motorhome and cooled off before heading to my next gig of the day.
Although RAGBRAI books the main stages, many local bars and restaurants booked their own entertainment as well. I was scheduled to play at a friends restaurant at 9:00 that evening. The band before me finished their set, knew I was up next, but yet took 1-1/4 hours to tear down and get their equipment off the stage. By then the crowd had left and moved down the street to another bar that had entertainment. I'm not going to name this band and give them any free advertising, but in my 45+ years of performing I've never seen anything so unprofessional! I never got to go on, thus not only did I lose money, but so did the restaurant. Needless to say if in the future the opportunity presents itself for me to work with this band, the answer will be NO!
Putting that aside, it was still an awesome day, I was able to walk around and get to talk to many of this sea of humanity that descended upon our community, each of them willing to tell yo their story and/or want to hear your story and everyone was extremely grateful for our community opening their hearts, yards and homes to provide a place to stay for the evening. It was amazing to stand on the stage and look out over this mass of people! It's a day I'll look back on with fond memories!