No RAGBRAI for my friends this year

My friends from Little Farm Fair Trade will not be showing up at RAGBRAI this year, along with several other long time participants. 

Little Farm is a tiny collective that provides Fair Trade coffee at a lot of fun events during the course of the year.  Like the Rainbow Gathering, Burning Man, and usually, RAGBRAI.  They leave a jar out for anybody that wants to drop in a donation, but don't charge for the coffee at any event.  It's a hippee cosmic kind of organic experience for them.

No longer.  Last year several people were charged for not having a vending permit along the route by various counties.  Taking a lesson from last year, the counties along the route this year have apparently decided to set fees for folks “vending” along the route.  Anything from $700-$1000 a day.  

Little Farm, and several of the others don't really even cover the cost of their gas on these trips, it's just something they do for fun and laughs, kind of a vacation.  

Now it will only be the big money folks along the route, not the fun mom & pop eccentrics.  Our loss.

UPDATE:  Here's RAGBRAI's response;

  • that is too bad

    I’ve never done RAGBRAI–I wonder how many other “vendors” will be affected. What about all the people who sell slices of pie? Is it worth their time if they have to pay the county hundreds of dollars for being a one-day vendor?

    • Exactly!

      What about the kids who sell lemonade?  When my friends were approached by local law enforcement last year, and asked to stop doing their coffee, the county law enforcement officer handed them a slip of paper with contact info for somebody with RAGBRAI to contact about vending.

      So much for 4H and FFA fundraising along the route. RAGBRAI seems to want total control.  

      I’m having some people get ahold of the ACLU of Iowa.  Might be worth their time.

  • Aren't we all just *mad*!!

    So I read through what Elton has posted and the Register’s, oops, RAGBRAI’s response . .   I’ve done the ride several times, and knew the organizer Green, in the 80’s & 90’s.

    The current ride director needs to grow a thicker skin.  He is over defensive from the first sentence  and it’s not helping his case.  Offenburger and Karras took pains to have a team that communicated with geniality at all times, even when tempers were high.

    The ride in the past has taken great pains to keep predatory or inflated vending fees by the communities and counties in check – while there is a case for the vendors (and ultimately riders) paying for the expense of the ride going through, the ride has wanted to keep the small town people feel and has either suggested or threatened communities into playing nice, both in planning and during the ride.  I can think of a handful of circumstances where some local bureaucrat with a chubby was leaning into a local group selling treats for a charity, and the charity had to call in a ride organizer to get the bureaucrat to back off or be reasonable.  That it’s not happening now speaks to incompetence in the staff.

    There’s some misinformation going on about the ride certainly, there always has been, but the RAGBRAI folks aren’t adequately dealing with it.  Considering they have almost free access to a newspaper to get their truth out, it doesn’t look good for the ride.

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