I was ready to pull out of New Hartford, the final town Wednesday afternoon before RAGBRAI reached Cedar Falls, when the singer’s voice from the gazebo in the park at the edge of town made me stop my bike. Just as I did, a fellow rider pulled off the street alongside me.
“It’s not too often someone’s singing stops you on RAGBRAI,” he said.
Maddie Poppe, a high school senior from Clarksville, Ia., was the singer in question. She played keyboard and sang, with a guitarist as accompaniment. Her between-song banter was witty and warm.
By the time she took a set break, a large RAGBRAI crowd had been drawn into the park. Riders shook her hand, praised her and tossed dollar bills into an open guitar case.
This little scene was affirmed throughout the day as I heard others on RAGBRAI, unsolicited, describe how they had been drawn in by the perfectly pitched singer-songwriter in New Hartford.
Riders asked if they would hear her later in the week, but Poppe already had another gig lined up.
“I have a wedding this weekend,” she said, “so I need to save my voice.”
Which music act on RAGBRAI has been your favorite so far?
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