Guttenberg boosted by RAGBRAI, Labor Day following river flood - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Guttenberg boosted by RAGBRAI, Labor Day following river flood

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Labor Day weekend means extra green for many area businesses before the leaves turn brown.

That was particularly helpful for shops and restaurants in small Mississippi River towns such as Guttenberg, which saw a dent in business this year while the river was in a prolonged flood stage.

Ryan Lauritzen lives in Oelwein, but Monday found him in Guttenberg, taking his family out boating on the mighty Mississippi for Labor Day weekend.

"It's a last chance -- it feels like it, anyway -- to get out there," Lauritzen said, "and the way the temperatures have been dropping a little bit, the water's going to get a little cool, so we feel like it's a good chance. Maybe last chance."

He and visitors like him are who Guttenberg businesses count on throughout the summer to help budgets stay in the black.

This year, the town's businesses had the benefit of thousands of cyclists as well, as Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa -- RAGBRAI -- ended in Guttenberg.

Local RAGBRAI committee co-chair Nancy McClellan said volunteers there parked nearly twice as many cars this year as they did in 2005, which was the last time RAGBRAI ended in Guttenberg. That means more people were in town, spending dollars.

Alissa Kaufman is head waitress at Riverview Cafe and Dam Riverview Sports Bar and said the business RAGBRAI brought was a welcomed boost.

"It was crazy. We sold out of a lot of food," Kaufman recalled. "It was great, we needed it. People were so friendly, and it was a great experience."

The Mississippi River in Guttenberg was above flood stage for much of May through early July, which kept boaters off the river and ultimately hurt sales, Kaufman said.

"It was a rough year, with the river being high and stuff, so now that it's finally down, we're picking up," she said.

While Kaufman hopes for a strong finish to summer, tourism season is far from over in Guttenberg and other Mississippi River towns throughout eastern Iowa, as autumn leaf-lookers will soon start streaming through.

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