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Fort Dodge picked as overnight stop for RAGBRAI

Riders to arrive on July 20

Thousands of bicyclists will converge on Fort Dodge July 20 and they will stay in town overnight, organizers of RAGBRAI announced Saturday evening.

”We’re really excited,” Mayor Matt Bemrich said. ”We think it’s a great opportunity to showcase our community. We’re excited to be part of RAGBRAI again.”

The upcoming RAGBRAI stop will be exactly five years after the last such visit, which was on July 20, 2015.

”I think they were looking for an overnight stop in a community with some previous relationship with RAGBRAI,” the mayor said. ”The last time we performed at a very high level.”

The RAGBRAI caravan will be in Fort Dodge at the same time that the Girls State Softball Tournament is being played at Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex. The tournament is scheduled for July 20-24.

Bemrich said community leaders will begin meeting this week to plan for the arrival of the bicyclists and set up some special events in connection with the overnight stay.

RAGBRAI is estimated to have a $1 million economic impact on Fort Dodge, he said.

He estimated that 10,000 people will come to Fort Dodge as part of RAGBRAI while another 12,000 to 14,000 will come to the softball tournament.

Fort Dodge was previously an overnight stop for RAGBRAI in 1973, 1987, 1995, 2004 and 2015.

During Saturday night’s announcement party, ride organizers said they will give each overnight community $15,000.

The ride will begin July 19 in Le Mars. That’s about 20 miles east of the Missouri River. Traditionally, the ride has started with riders dipping the wheels of their bikes in the Missouri River. Organizers did not offer an explanation for the change this year.

On July 19, bicyclists will pedal to Storm Lake. The next day they will come to Fort Dodge.

Subsequent overnight stops will be in Iowa Falls, Waterloo, Anamosa, Maquoketa and Clinton.

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