Organizers in Perry were well aware that often at least one overnight town along the RAGBRAI route gets rained out.
They met earlier with officials from last year’s overnight towns, including Marshalltown, which was hit with severe storms during it’s stop.
“We were all hoping that wouldn’t be us,” said Bob Wilson, executive director of the Perry Area Chamber of Commerce.
A line of thunderstorms Monday night dashed those hopes with heavy rain, hail and gusty winds.
Fortunately, Wilson said, the town took out a weather insurance policy that will cover more than $70,000 in expenses from festivities that were rained out in the storm.
Perry’s main attraction, an 80s hair-metal cover band called Hairball complete with costumes and pyrotechnics, never took the stage. Outdoor vendors had to shut down early. By the time the storm passed at 10:30 p.m. there was only an hour left before the scheduled closing time and msot vendors didn’t bother to open up shop again.
“The rain just hit us at the wrong time,” Wilson said.
Riders were ushered into shelters at the local law enforcement center, elementary school and community center.
“We’ve been planning this thing since January and we had all our ducks in a row,” Wilson said. “As soon as that storm hit we got everyone in the shelters as fast as we could.”
Hail as big as 2 inches in diameter was reported near Boone. Central Iowa experienced widespread tree damage, with the heaviest damage to the east near State Center and Marshalltown, according to the National Weather Service.
The worst of the storm missed Perry, and organizers there received no reports of injuries or major damage, Wilson said.
The community lost out on making money as a result of the storm, though it’s difficult to say how much, Wilson said.
Outdoor vendors, many of which were from outside the Dallas County town of 7,000, were most affected, while the town’s brick and mortar businesses fared fairly well.
Local bars were packed, the Kiwanis Club was busy flipping pancakes for hungry cyclist and the Hy-Vee and Fareway in town saw probably their busiest days of the year, Wilson said.
“This was a great way to showcase our little town,” he said. “We’d start planning for next year’s ride tomorrow if we could.”
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