Decorah expecting tens of thousands for RAGBRAI and Nordic Fest - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

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DECORAH (KWWL) -

The 51st annual Nordic Fest is officially underway in Decorah.

The annual festival celebrates the area's Scandinavian roots with music and a lot of food you've probably never heard of.

It usually pulls anywhere from 10,000-20,000 people to the city.

But this year, there's an added wrinkle.

Decorah is a meeting town for RAGBRAI on it's Friday route through northeastern Iowa.  Riders start the day in Cresco, and will bike 19 miles to Decorah, where Nordic Fest awaits.

Businesses all along Decorah's Water St., the main business district in the city, have been busy prepping for the huge crowds.

At Ruby's, they've prepped about 2,000 cinnamon rolls, and fully expect to have to make more Friday night.

"If I run out of rolls, I'll be happier than heck," said Owner Jo Olson.

She'll also get a chance to introduce many in the state to a Norwegian staple: lutefisk.  It's a cod preserved in rye, and she says it's definitely an acquired taste.

Down the street at Magpie Coffee Shop, they're also gearing up for a big morning rush.

"The staff is all geared up. We've overstocked, and we're ready to go," said Kathleen Ritner, Magpie's Owner.

And even the shops with no food or drink to offer, like KD Rae Jewelry, are licking their chops in anticipation of the huge crowds.

"So for us, just getting people in the door, what is KD Rae Jewelry, who is KD Rae Jewelry? They will come in and experience it. And whether they come in and experience it. And whether they purchase or not, it's a win win for us either way," said Rachael Buresh, KD Rae Jewelry's Owner.

This weekend isn't just a chance for Decorah businesses to reap the rewards of RAGBRAI.

It's a chance for RAGBRAI riders to experience Decorah, and the ever popular Nordic Fest.

"We hope to have it as something that people who maybe haven't been to Nordic Fest, or traditionally someone who wouldn't go to Nordic Fest, will see it as they bike through on RAGBRAI, and decide that in future years they'd like to come back and join us for the fest," said Laurie Meinholz, president of Nordic Fest.

And because the fest already fell on this weekend, organizers say prepping for RAGBRAI was much easier than it might have been otherwise.

"The decorations were already out, you can already see flags, you can see little buildings up, that's all for Nordic Fest. So we've just had to beef it up a little bit," said Charlene Selbee, executive director of the Winneshiek County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Winneshiek County Sheriff expects riders to move into the county around 7 a.m. and move out by 4 p.m.

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