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Klemme residents provide July 27 RAGBRAI visitors taste of small town Iowa

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It is an understatement to say it was a big deal when RAGBRAI bike riders visited the small Hancock County town of Klemme. Many bikers were already riding through town around mid-morning on July 27.

Klemme was the last day stop on the way to Mason City for the night during the fourth day of the annual event. The day featured a century ride of more than 100 miles (105 to be exact).

“I’m here for the day,” said 1974 Klemme graduate Jane Bruhl-Follett of Norwalk. “I volunteered right away. I had to come back home for this.”

She wasn’t the only 1974 Klemme graduate clad as a shamrock and greeting riders with the words “Good morning, welcome to Klemme.” So was her former classmate, Jean Bock-McBreen, of Ames.

“I was the first volunteer on Facebook,” Bock-McBreen said. “It’s so cool. It really is wonderful to be here for this. We’ve met so many people, including from the Netherlands, Arizona, West Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, and someone all the way from Forest City.”

Larry Melat from just south of Tampa Bay, Florida, stopped at a large, shaded Klemme United Church of Christ stand featuring an array of homemade pies and baked goods.

“This small-town hospitality is great and the weather is nicer this year,” Melat said. “It sure is a lot better than last year, which was my first year doing this.”

Longtime church member and Klemme resident Susan Kaduce, who grew up in the town and retired there, said the bake sale was a larger community effort than just the church, which sponsored and organized it.

“It was many ladies from our church and area communities," Kaduce said. "It was a true community effort. We are thankful for their generosity. All our donations are going to Bremen, Germany. We kind of have our sister church there. Inge Kuschernus was our interim pastor for about three months when she was on sabbatical leave from Germany. So, we’re trying to help her with relief aid for Ukrainian refugees who have come to their town.”

Beth Roths of Klemme was manning the volunteer check-in table, also wearing green shamrocks to show her Klemme pride.

“I’m pretty much a lifelong resident,” she said. “This is exciting. We have Ag Days here, but that’s been getting smaller recently. This really is something for a town of 490-some people. I’ve never seen it before except in Garner one year.”

Roths said she was one of a core group of community volunteers, who numbered about 15. She said the planning and organizing for this day began in earnest in April when the first of several planning meetings were held.

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at rob.hillesland@globegazette.com.

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