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Bar / Beer Tent Advice

I am with team Brewhaha (the publishers of the unofficial RAGBRAI bar guide), and after the awesome nearly perfect party the Flat Tire threw and talking to many of those involved in the planning of that event, we are looking for to update our suggestion lists for bar owners etc. along the route. So what worked for you and what did you find frustrating as you visited bars on the route?

23 Replies

jwsknk, August 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm

lack of shade this year really hurt a lot of them this year I think. Can they stretch cables across the street/between buildings and use the big blue tarps? or as one town did years ago, parachutes.


Scott, August 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Agree with the tents. We didn’t have any lined up and then heard Monday that lots of places didn’t and people were leaving.  Luckily we were able to get some on short notice.


Zinger, August 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Way to show off the road rash!! I just thought of yet another thing I liked about the Flat Tire’s setup – the music was in one area and there was a tent set up in another area where you could actually hold a conversation while enjoying food and/or a beverage. I know that bars in town face space constraints that would make this a challenge, but it was nice.


Wonder Woman, August 2, 2011 at 10:20 am

The wounds are healing nicely. Shade was also one of the top things Scott at the Flat Tire said they tried to do. I also liked the fact they didn’t do the ticket thing and the and the drinks (and water) were ready to go…no waiting in a long line. What about other stops on the route? What did they do wrong/right?


Papa T, August 2, 2011 at 10:26 am

NO ^%*^^#$% tickets!  USE MONEY!!!!!

PS: Like the new handle.  Do we call you Minn or Sota?

Did I mention I cannot wait?


jwsknk, August 2, 2011 at 10:31 am

In one of the pass through towns someone ended up on the roof of the 2 story building rigging up a garden hose to mist the street out front.


KittySlayer, August 2, 2011 at 11:13 am

jwsknk said: lack of shade this year really hurt a lot of them this year I think….

That was going to be my response when I saw the title. From a planning standpoint, if you though the blazing sun thinned the crowds imagine what would have happened to the “crowds” had it been raining.

It would seem like an Iowa tent vendor could set up a crew to traverse the state all week, moving the same tent from town to town. Perhaps as a sponsor of Brewhaha you would include the name of the vendor that would be available to the bar owners each day.

Some good beer too. I typically use your guide as a starting point and then refine my selections by looking at the “other” guide. Good beer typically indicates a lot of other good things at the bar – food, service, shade and most importantly Beer!

Water hose/cooler. I don’t mind paying big bucks for cheap event beer but have some water available to fill my bottles. Perhaps a couple of coolers to the bartenders can attend to important task like serving and selling beer!

Finally, thank you for putting the guide together. I had laminated copies for all the folks in our group (with inspirational photos on the reverse side). We would use the guide to determine where we would hook up along the route and never had to worry about trying to use cell phones that were useless anyways.


Frisky77, August 2, 2011 at 11:33 am

Great job with the guide.  Comes in very handy.

Bar owners: No more Dale Blue.  PLEASE

Survey says!: He sucks!


Party Pants, August 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Yeah, there needs to be a bar guide that all town bars can consult.

We on Team Cockroach were actually going to put one together for next year, and circulate amongst the teams to ensure we got it all right, then publish it somewhere. This year (and every year) we came across bars that really had no clue, and expected to just handle it like any other day. The Flat Tire folks did it right, but a few weeks before the event when we spoke to them, they were only planning on 600 people. We told them to plan for 3500 or they would be dead meat. I spoke to one of the owners that day and he told me that shortly after noon they had used up 2500 wristbands. Awesome! So clearly bars who are not tuned into the RAGBRAI way just have no concept of the scale of humanity that descends on them.

Seems Team Brewhaha had the same thoughts. I will send you a PM and let’s see what we can come up with.


NathanZ, August 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Shade was critical. The beer gardens turned into the absolute LAST place I wanted to hang out in. 

I’m also with Papa T on the beer tickets. Inconvenient. 
Some giant fans would be nice as well.


NathanZ, August 2, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I should add, I agree. Flat Tire was THE BEST party on/off route. The cop at the intersection where you finally had to go off-route was a complete jerk about it though. She literally called me “stupid” for making the best decision I made all week. Flat Tire and High Tressle were awesome.


SFC JKL 2, August 2, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Thanks again for the bar guide.  I use it way more than I do the route maps.

Shade would have been good this year.  Hasn’t always been a requirement, but was this year.  I’m OK with tickets as long as it is one and not three or four per beer.  Then it becomes too big of a pain.


Scott, August 3, 2011 at 5:20 am

The hardest thing for us was planning for the number of people.  We heard 500 to 20k riders would be taking the off route.  We ended up planning for about 10k because the beer vendors will buy back the beer and the other stuff will keep long enough for us to sell it.  Honestly, we had no idea what we were doing and without listening to the advice from every ragbraier that stopped in we would have been just like any other stop.  

Out main advantage over other bars too, is we had ragbrai traffic since day 1, so we heard from everyone what we should do.  The other bars probably don’t get any bike traffic leading up to ragbrai so they have no clue what they should do to accommodate everyone.  The bar guide with tips on how to do it right is a great idea!


cyclesoc, August 3, 2011 at 11:25 am

The bar in Tiffin had a pretty sweet setup for being an off-route.


Wonder Woman, August 8, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Ok, we are still looking for advice…suggestions from the RAGBRAI world. We are going to try to contact the bars and tents along the route and see what they say did and didn’t work. This way we can all enjoy a great RAGBRAI XL


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