If there is decent weather this weekend for the “Pedaler’s Jamboree Iowa,” a bicycle and music festival being held on the Raccoon River Valley Trail, it could be one of the biggest events ever on this 27-year-old trail in west central Iowa.
And the possibility of it becoming an annual event on the Raccoon River Valley Trail (RRVT) on Labor Day weekend looks good. As of Monday, more than 1,200 bicycle riders from eight states had registered as participants.
“That 1,200 number is a good start for a first-year event,” said Michael Denehy, the native Iowan who heads the Columbia, Mo.-based Off Track Events, the organizer of the jamboree. “But we hope a lot more will sign up on the day of the event, too. If the weather is good, I think we could easily be at 1,500 riders on Saturday, maybe 2,000.”
Denehy has named and patterned the new event here after “Pedaler’s Jamboree Missouri,” which has become a major tourism event the past seven years on the KATY Trail in central Missouri, using the 29-mile portion of that trail between Columbia and Boonville, Mo. In recent years, about 2,500 bicycle riders have registered for it.
But Pedaler’s Jamboree Iowa is going to be longer and hopefully, eventually, it might even become bigger.
Here the ride on Saturday, Sept. 5, starting in Waukee, will be about 50 miles, using the RRVT’s “north loop” to reach the overnight destination of Jefferson. The official starting point in Waukee, by the way, is Mickey’s Irish Pub in Warrior Plaza at 50 S.E. Laurel, on the south side of U.S. Highway 6 in the western part of town.
The ride Sunday, Sept. 6, from Jefferson back to Waukee will be about 56 miles, using the RRVT’s original “south loop.”
Registration will be open right up through the start of the jamboree Saturday morning, Sept. 5. You can register online and also get lots of continuously updated information. The fee is $60 for adults and $30 for those 16 and under. There is no charge for small children being pulled in bike trailers by their parents.
But the bicyclists are just part of the fun – and just part of the crowd.
As the riders pass through the towns on the RRVT, there will be 22 top regional bands performing live, generally at trailside locations or somewhere very close. Most towns will have food vendors and beer gardens.
Four featured bands will be playing Saturday night in a concert from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Jefferson. Those four groups are Dirtfoot, That 1 Guy, Euforquestra and the Flood Brothers.
That Jefferson show requires an admission ticket for people not already registered for the bicycle ride, $20 for adults and $15 for those 16 and under. All ticket holders are welcome to camp overnight at the fairgrounds.
At all other music venues on the trail, the public can join the crowd and listen to the music for free. That fact is expected to bring out dozens to hundreds of music fans in the trail towns, adding to the festival atmosphere.
“There’s going to be a wide variety of music,” said Denehy, who then listed “folk, reggae, bluegrass, rock, hard rock, a 1-man band, a 1-woman band and more. They’re coming from as far away as Colorado, St. Louis, actually all over Missouri, and 13 of the bands are from Iowa.”
The Iowa acts include such favorites as Chad Elliott, The Soul Searchers, The High Crest, Mr. Baber’s Neighbors, Ryne Doughty, The Tarakis, Mighty Shady and others.
Cherish Anderson of Des Moines, who is assistant jamboree manager and has booked many of the Iowa groups, said listeners will hear “a lot of folk, Americana and roots music, as well as some blues and rock ’n’ roll.” She guessed the age range of the musicians “from in their 20s to some in their 50s.” Most have been playing professionally for at least a decade, and many have toured nationally and even beyond, as well as fronting for major-name acts in big concerts.
It is probably the strongest line-up of live music ever for a weekend in this territory around the RRVT.