The Heart of the RAGBRAI Nation: The Plover Hamball Update

  • 25 September, 2010

I receive quite a few emails, letters and phone calls after RAGBRAI from many who were involved in the RAGBRAI experience.  Some are glowingly positive, some offer constructive criticism and some are… well not so nice.  The email I received from Grandma Candace of Plover, Iowa truly made my day.

I had the opportunity to meet Grandma Candace and the other Grandmas of the Plover Circle during the RAGBRAI Route Inspection Ride back in June.  This would be the first time that Plover hosted RAGBRAI so they had lots of questions for us.  The church ladies prepared some delicious hamballs and pies for the riders and let us know that the folks in Plover are combining efforts to help raise funds to replace the roof on the Plover United Methodist Church which has been damaged. I wrote about the Plover community rallying around their church in the route inspection story as well as a blog post about pass-through towns and vendors.

The little town of 95 residents in rural Pocahontas County was located on the Karras Loop on the Monday ride from Storm Lake to Algona.  In addition to the church’s food booth, the town welcomed an assortment of vendors such as Tender Tom’s Turkey to set up in their shady park.

I visited the town late that afternoon to see how the day went.  I chatted with many townspeople who enjoyed meeting riders from all over the world.  Lucky for me they did not run out of those hamballs, so I bought one of the last ones!  I chatted with the Grandmas that were working the hamball stand and asked them to keep me posted on the church roof project. It was a great day in Plover!

 Here is the email I received from Grandma Candace:

Next year when somebody starts an online conversation about RAGBRAI, money, and ride-through towns; employ the attached photo to illustrate how one group put the income to work. Church roofing began today in Plover and we are very excited!

On July 26, RAGBRAI riders contributed $10,400 (that’s after expenses) to this project. That day you saw the efforts of our entire congregation—38 souls, kids included. This new roof means there can be a church in Plover for the next 30 years.

We’re still enjoying the poster RAGBRAI riders signed and constantly remind each other how much we can accomplish pulling together.

God bless you for the opportunity. We’ll be praying for RAGBRAI riders every July from now until all five Grandmas of the Plover Circle lose their memories!


As I have said before, without great Iowa communities, RAGBRAI does not exist.  The towns and the townspeople propelled RAGBRAI into the event that it is today.  We ask a lot of our communities to graciously host over 10,000 visitors and show them that great Iowa hospitality.  Thank you to the RAGBRAI Nation for showing it’s big heart.  You made a difference this summer that will last for many years!

T.J. Juskiewicz
RAGBRAI Director


  1. "Bicycle Bill"

    And this is nothing new; this is just the latest example. Over the years I’m sure that the largesse of RAGBRAI riders have re-roofed more churches, funded more playgrounds, sponsored more sports teams, clothed more marching bands, and sent more boy and girl scouts to camp than anyone could possible imagine.

    So the next time someone asks you “Why on earth would you want to ride your bike across Iowa in the middle of summer?” — here’s one more reason you can give ’em.


  2. Sandaltan

    Add to BB’s list paid for new rest rooms in the Redfield city park. And I have heard raised one million bucks for LiveStrong in the last four years. Now if I can just figure out how to take hamballs, pork chooooops, Gatoraide, RAGBRAI registration, t-shirt purchases and other expenses off my taxes as charitable contributions I will be a happy rider Any tax lawyers out there???

  3. Artie

    Whenever I talk about the ride, people here in AZ ask if the ride is a fundraiser. I alsways respond yes/no. The ride itself is not, but along the way we’ve funded almost everything important to Iowans. I personally weed out the stops that too much for their wares, but there’s always plenty to choose from. A reasonable price is all that I ask, well that and plenty of stawberry/rhubarb pie. A tip for future church ladies…. that seems to be the first pie to run out….make more!

  4. Jim Horan

    To B.B.

    I hope some woman is walking around now on a leg that RAGBRAI riders help provide.

  5. MnM

    After RAGBRAI’s generous riders came thru our town of 1,200, the churchs with other groups gave their raised funds to help replace our outdated ambulance for a brand new state-of-the-art unit. Along with our very experienced volunteer crews it’s truely a gift that keeps on giving. In some cases, the gift of life. RAGBRAI and it’s riders importance is beyond compare.

  6. J&K

    Such a good feeling to see the roof getting fixed, that was a fun stop. But did the “boys of Plover” make enough tip money for their tuition? ;)

  7. Susan


  8. Kathy

    My deceased husband and family were members of The Methodist Church in Plover, for many years. My Mother-in-law would have been one of those hard working volunteers, providing a lot of laughs too. Congratulations Plover! We lived in Mallard when, twice Ragbrai went through, and my kids, had their 4-H club set up to raise money, providing toilet paper to the riders, off a flat-bed trailer. My son rode in Ragbrai in 2009, coming here from FL. It is a great event and makes me proud to be an Iowan. No better people anywhere!Thanks riders.

  9. Corey Isaac

    You surely seem to have had a wonderful time :)

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