Iowa City thinking literary, gearing up for RAGBRAI


Donated books are seen in the UI main library on July 11, 2018. (Michael Aragon/The Daily Iowan)

As cyclists trek into the last overnight town on the RAGBRAI route on July 27, more than the Old Capitol and Kinnick Stadium will await them.

Various organizations, including Think Iowa City, the Iowa City Downtown District, the city of Iowa City, and the University of Iowa, plan a grand welcome for the RAGBRAI riders who are booking it to Iowa City for the first time in 42 years.

“Book it to Iowa City” was the theme chosen for day’s festivities, with the best of Iowa City’s food, music, and arts culture on display in and near downtown.

Part of that grand welcome is Think Iowa City RAGBRAI Committee’s book donation, which will use donated books to create sculptures around downtown to honor Iowa City’s literary history.

Nick Pfeiffer, the Think Iowa City director of marketing and communications, encourages the public to donate any unused books to decorate the town. The sculptures will be placed on various street corners and route entry points.

“There’s going to be unique installations around the downtown area, and the one-time placement will draw attention from both riders and community members,” Pfeiffer said.

Monica Nieves, the Think Iowa City director of special events and communications, said the sculptures will also feature unique facts and background about Pulitzer Prize-winning authors from Iowa City and other world-famous writers.

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Although most of the books used will no longer be readable after they are used in the sculptures, any unused books will be donated. The rest will be recycled.

Books can be donated at the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 900 First Ave., Coralville. The bureau is also looking for volunteers to help with the book sculptures and other design initiatives taking place downtown for the RAGBRAI celebration.

Nieves says she is thrilled to work on the RAGBRAI committee.

“I’m excited to welcome all of these people from all over Iowa, the United States, and the world to show them what Iowa City is all about,” she said.

The day’s activities will start the morning of July 27, and the main concert stage, located at Clinton Street and Iowa Avenue, will feature James Tutson and the Rollback, Elizabeth Moen, Blitzen Trapper, and the Jayhawks.

Food trucks and other vendors will set up downtown, and wristbands can be purchased for $10 to enjoy alcoholic drinks in designated areas.

Nancy Bird, the director of the Downtown District, is excited to showcase Iowa City for RAGBRAI visitors so that one day they might just come back.

“Our goal is to make the day an oasis of culinary, entertainment, and other authentic Iowa City experiences,” she said.

While it hasn’t been an easy process securing a stop on RAGBRAI’s route, Bird thinks this will be a great event for the community.

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