RAGBRAI LI Day Passes are still available!

RAGBRAI 2012: At the crossroads in Jewell

  • 25 July, 2012
  • Grant Rodgers

Ohio resident Keith Castle will play his harmonica anywhere along the route people will listen.

Standing on a corner in Jewell, the second town on today’s route, the second-time RAGBRAI rider from North Lewisburg, Ohio, said he began playing the harmonica after his father died five years ago. His father was a harmonica player, and Castle was asked to play at his funeral.

When he realized he wouldn’t be able to play at the funeral, he set out to learn the instrument, he said. He started attending blues festivals and has been playing the music since.

His RAGBRAI experience began three years ago. “I was a driver and I got hooked,” he said.

Riding for the first time last year, Castle loved the hills he encountered in southwest Iowa. He has a positive perspective on the steep climbs that might annoy other riders, he said.

“It makes me get a little more breath for my harmonica,” he says.

Across Jewell’s Main Street from where Castle put on his impromptu act, resident Katie Hildal, 26, was busy serving breakfast tacos to riders at Katie’s Cafe, which she’s owned with her mother, Jacquelyn, since 2010.

In front of her café, riders lined up to get the tacos, a mixture of egg, chorizo, cheese and sour cream, piled on top of fry bread.

Today was the busiest day the cafe’s ever seen, she said. The only event that can put more pressure on her business in Jewell than RAGBRAI is a Red Hat Society meeting, she said.

For Hildal, the business was a venture she undertook after being laid off from her job as a custodian at the local high school. A local woman told her she needed a place to drink coffee, and Hildal decided to give the cafe a shot.

The top draw for the cafe for locals remains the scones, Hildal said. Today’s popular breakfast tacos, she said, were a first-time experiment for the business.

“We’ve done them at home before, but never on this scale,” she said. “They’re doing really well, we keep moving.”

Submit a Comment

Related Articles
No results found