A RAGBRAI events village will showcase the best of what downtown Des Moines has to offer for the thousands of riders and visitors who make their way through Iowa’s capital city on July 23.
“We really wanted to show off the great city of Des Moines and everything Des Moines has become,” said Eric Branstad, a member of the RAGBRAI Des Moines Planning Committee’s executive team.
The village will be set up along the Principal Riverwalk, with events and vendors along Water Street and the Walnut Street and Court Avenue bridges. The main stage will be set up on Court Avenue bridge; organizers are still working on finalizing a list of performers.
The location will allow visitors easy access to restaurants, retailers and activities on both sides of the Des Moines river, said Chris Diebel, operations chairman for the planning committee.
It’s also an opportunity to show of Des Moines’ new Principal Riverwalk.
“In the East Village, riders can look forward to a one-of-kind restaurant and retail experience and on the Court Avenue side, there are really great restaurants and bars they can take advantage of,” Diebel said. “We really want to wow participants.”
Local organizers turned to RAYGUN and one of it’s popular shirts for the overnight town’s theme and logo: RAGBRAI Des Moines Greatest Bike Ride In the World. Greatest City in the World.
The seven-day ride across the state at the end of July draws about 10,000 people every year, but event organizers expect that number to swell to as many as 35,000 riders as it makes it’s way through central Iowa mid-week.
Diebel and others are planning a full day of events in Des Moines for riders and others. The route from Perry to Des Moines is 49.9 miles, and Diebel expects people to arrive to Des Moines early.
A complimentary shuttle bus service from the campgrounds at Water Works Park to downtown will begin mid-morning and run through 11 p.m.
Entertainment on the Court Avenue bridge will run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and fireworks over the river will serve as the finale.
In addition to a numerous restaurant and retail vendors on Water Street and the Walnut Street bridge, the World Food Prize building will be open for public tours and the State Historical Society will feature a 3,000-square-foot RAGBRAI exhibit.
The promenade at the World Food Prize building will feature smaller acts and a craft beer area.
“People will really be able to explore both sides of the Riverwalk and within blocks, they’ll have all of these cultural and entertainment options,” Diebel said.
RAGBRAI Des Moines T-shirts will be available at the RAYGUN shop beginning Monday, and riders can bring their own jerseys to the store and have the logo printed on them, Diebel said.
Organizers are collecting vendor applications now, and more announcements about main acts and other activities are expected in the coming weeks, he said.
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