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In 2020, Visit Mason City had a serious issue on its hand: nobody was visiting Mason City.

The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic caused shutdowns and restrictions across the country, meaning events were cancelled and people were no longer making the trip to North Iowa.

This presented problems for Visit Mason City and its executive director Lindsey James, and overall, Cerro Gordo County experienced a 22.8% decrease in direct visitor spending in 2020.

This lack of visitors to the area created funding issues for Visit Mason City as well, as the organization is funded through Mason City's hotel-motel tax. Fewer people staying in local hotels meant less revenue for Visit Mason City.

To stay afloat, Visit Mason City had to get creative.

"On one hand, everything we do here was put on hold," James said. "When travel was so negatively impacted we took a hit, but, our community faired pretty well."

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But the big ticket item for James and the Visit Mason City team is thatMason City was announced as a host city for the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI).

"We are living and breathing RAGBRAI right now," James said.


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