• Posted May 20, 2012

So when’s the last time you decorated up your bicycle with crepe paper streamers and rode it in a parade? The first-ever “Iowa Bicycle Festival” in Jefferson is Saturday May 26th.

Saturday, May 26, 2012, 10 am-6 pm
Jefferson, lowa - on the square
Celebrating the bicycle - and those who ride it.

The line-up of activities and fun is taking shape as Jefferson readies for the Iowa Bicycle Festival

“There’s so much more to cycling than just riding bikes,” says John Brunow, the event’s chairperson. The “Cyclists Of Greene” club have planned the May 26 event to include education, fashion, art – and of course food, too!

  • Juried Art Show "Celebrating the bicycle"
  • Bicycle Rodeo - trick and treats for all ages
  • Classic Team Bus and Bicycle Show
  • Team Bus Painting Event
  • Team Bus and Bicycle Parade
  • Bicycle Seminars, Expo/Vendors & Food!
  • and more.. read on!
So when’s the last time you decorated up your bicycle with crepe paper streamers and rode it in a parade? And have you ever been able to take a tour of one of those colorful team buses that groups use on RAGBRAI? Want to watch a graffiti artist paint one of those team buses, or even help him? Ever seen a fashion show of bicycling apparel?

The first-ever “Iowa Bicycle Festival” will let you do all those things in Jefferson on Saturday, May 26.


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Operating from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on that Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the festival is “a celebration of the bicycle and the people who ride it.” Coordinating and hosting the event are the members of the local Cyclists Of Greene (COG) bike club, with financial support from the Greene County Community Foundation, several businesses and other organizations.

The organizers are now previewing some of the festival events, most of which will be around the courthouse square

Premiering and available all day will be a juried, bicycle-themed art show “Celebrating the Bicycle,” featuring the work of top artists from across the Midwest on the walls of the All Ability Cycles shop. The show will continue through June. Most of the work will be for sale. Top prizes are sponsored by Home State Bank, of Jefferson.

“We’ve had 34 pieces entered by artists from as far away as Minnesota and Colorado, some from Des Moines and two or three from Greene County,” said Karen Cooper, a local artist who is co-chair of the show with Ces Brunow. “We’ll have a nice mix of paintings and photography.”

Also throughout the day, people will be able to make a piece of “spin art” by pedaling a bicycle, and make their own cold fruit drinks in a blender powered by a bicycle they’ll ride.


The parade, sponsored by the Kum & Go convenience stores, forms after 10 a.m., and will roll through the town beginning at 11 a.m. Parade co-chairs Wayne Cooper and Kyle Orris want to include people of all ages on bicycles and also RAGBRAI team buses. The first bus in the line-up will be the bright red one of “Team Kum & Go” based in the Des Moines area, followed by a group of its members on their bikes. Other teams from across the state have been invited to bring their buses, too.


After the parade, Rich Osborne will supervise a “bike & bus display” on the courthouse square and it will continue thru the afternoon. The public will be able to do tours of the RAGBRAI buses, and hear team members’ stories of past adventures. Many of the bikes on display will be classics, and their owners will be on hand to answer questions.

Beginning at 12 noon, graffiti artist Taylor Smith, a native of Spencer in northwest Iowa who is studying at the Creative Center of Art & Design in Omaha, will lead the painting of a RAGBRAI team bus on one of the corner intersections on the square. The event, coordinated by Wayne Cooper, is being sponsored by Jefferson Telecom and Durlam Electric.

The team bus that will be painted belongs to “Team Purple Jam,” which has team members from across the state, including the Jefferson area. One of the owners of the bus is former Jefferson resident Connie Ten Napel, of Sibley in northwest Iowa. She and other team members have been consulting with artist Smith about the general design of the new paint job. And members of the public will be available to buy a can of spray paint at the event and help Smith with the work.

Tricks & Treats

Also beginning at noon, there will be bicycle-themed “Tricks & Treats” for riders of all ages on the square, with competitions and exhibitions. Coordinators are Tom Braun, Tammie Sobkowiak, Diane Wise and Craig Berry. Helmets will be required for all cyclists participating. New helmets, provided by Peoples Trust & Savings Bank, will be given away as long as supplies last.


From 1 to 4 p.m., cyclists Don and Jean Van Gilder, who are both knowledgeable about the community, will lead riding tours to see Jefferson’s notable homes, businesses and attractions. Those tours, lasting 30 to 45 minutes, will leave from the square.


In the courthouse rotunda, Chuck Offenburger will be leading 45-minute seminars on different bicycle-related topics, featuring noted leaders of cycling from across the state. These conversations, which are being sponsored by the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association, will start at 10 a.m. and at the top of the hour thereafter, except during the parade. Those in the audience will be able to interact with the presenters.

The topics and presenters include “RAGBRAI” with the event’s director T.J. Juskiewicz of the Des Moines Register; Brian Duffy of West Des Moines talking about his bicycling and art; the Raccoon River Valley Trail with trail officials; Iowa’s other recreational trails with Andrea Chase, trails coordinator for the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; bicycling business & entrepreneurship with Scott Sumpter of and the Iowa Bicycle Coalition’s executive director Mark Wyatt; Greene County outdoor recreation opportunities with Conservation Director Dan Towers, and “Iowa’s Bicycle Clubs” with several club leaders.


At 3 p.m., there will be a fashion show, with live models wearing the latest in bicycling apparel, on the plaza on the south side of the courthouse. Styles will be for women and men, as well as children. Coordinating and emceeing the show will be Abbie Durkee, of the Des Moines area, who is emerging as one of the top designers of cycling clothing in the Midwest with her “My Alibi” line.

“With My Alibi, the line is designed to be coordinated with other everyday styles to manage sweat, and create the comfortable foundation to be able to wear many other things,” Durkee says. “I will assemble the outfits to cater to using the bike as transportation as well as recreation – but with less focus on the athletic side.”


The show will also include apparel from other bicycle shops, as well as this year’s fashions being sold by RAGBRAI.

All events at the festival are being organized to appeal to the public as well as avid cyclists.

Jefferson newspaperman and piano player Rick Morain will perform at various times, and there may be musical performances by visiting cyclists, too.

And there will be several vendors offering food, snacks and non-alcohol drinks, coordinated by Pam Olerich. Doug Hawn will provide a public address system.

“There’s so much more to cycling than just riding bikes,” said John Brunow, the All Ability Cycles shop co-owner who is chairperson of the festival. “One thing that makes this unique is that we’re going to put some focus on things like education, fashion and art in cycling. Those are all part of the sport, but they often get lost once the riding begins.”


Make a weekend of it and stay close to home. There are B&BS, motels, and camping available. Check out last week's article from Des Moines Register on Road Trips. Ride your bicycle out. Drive to Jefferson or a town close by and still ride in. It will be a great weekend to spend the Raccoon River Valley Trail.

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