Orange City will swell from around 6.000 residents to perhaps 26.000 in late July as the northwest Iowa town hosts the start of the statewide bicycle ride, RAGBRAI.

Mike Hofman, executive director of the Orange City Chamber of Commerce, says he’s working feverishly to line up overnight accommodations for the massive influx of peddlers from around the planet.

“May 1, the RAGBRAI riders get their wristband numbers and they can start applying for housing,” Hofman says. “We really need anybody and everybody in Orange City that has space in their home to contact us and sign up to be a house host and to help us welcome those riders. We’re also working on beautification and other ways we can welcome the riders in July.”

The annual cycling event will need to have hundreds of volunteers and Hofman’s urging all locals to step up. “We’ve been going out door-to-door asking people, we’ve got art contests going on, we’ve got a fun light up Orange City thing,” Hofman says. “It’s a different focus than Tulip Festival and we’re trying to get people involved and show them they can be a part of this even if they don’t necessarily ride a bike.” The 45th annual Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa runs July 23-29. Other overnight towns include: Spencer, Algona, Clear Lake, Charles City, Cresco, Waukon and Lansing.

(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)