DIAGONAL – Diagonal’s Labor Day celebration will be even bigger this year as WHO-HD Channel 13’s RVTV comes to town Monday to kick off Cy-Hawk week.
RVTV is an annual weeklong tailgate party that makes its way across the state leading up to the Iowa versus Iowa State football game on Saturday. This year’s tour starts in Diagonal Monday before traveling to Norwalk Tuesday, Knoxville Wednesday, Albia Thursday, Ottumwa Friday and Iowa City on Saturday for the Cy-Hawk game.
WHO-HD Sports Director Keith Murphy said Diagonal, Norwalk and Ottumwa are all first-time stops for RVTV.
Diagonal is a bit of an unknown for the RVTV crew, which is what makes it such an intriguing stop, according to Murphy.
“It is by far the smallest town we’ve ever stopped in,” Murphy said. “John Sears, after going down there and kind of scouting it out, said, in his mind, there is no chance it will ever be replaced as the smallest town to host an RVTV stop. He didn’t realize how small it was, either.”
Diagonal has a population of around 350 people and Murphy said RVTV hasn’t seen anything close to under 1,000.
With the Diagonal Lions Club hosting a big, three-day Labor Day celebration, Murphy said Diagonal was a natural choice for a Labor Day stop.
“With Monday being Labor Day, we have found those days work better in towns where they have something going on,” he said. “We had heard Diagonal has a big celebration where the town size doubles, triples or even quadruples. That sounded fun and we had never been there.”
This year’s RVTV crew includes Murphy, WHO-HD Chief Meteorologist Ed Wilson, sports reporters John Sears and Michael Admire, “Iowa Nice Guy” Scott Siepker and Chris Williams of Cyclone Fanatic and Ross Peterson, both of KXNO’s Sports Fanatics radio show. The Hawkeye Nation RV will also make an appearance, as will, for the first time, a Cyclone Fanatic RV. Scott Edwards of Plaza RV will be driving the RV in Diagonal’s Labor Day parade Monday morning.
Murphy said he is most excited to see Diagonal’s Labor Day festivities and seeing the town come to life, weather permitting.
“Weather willing, we’ve heard Monday will have all kinds of fun and games and tractor pulls. I’m just intrigued to see all that in a town of 350 people, to see what that’s all like,” Murphy said. “Second would probably be the school, because it’s really cool that a school that size is still up and running and thriving.”
Murphy said for the first 15 to 20 years of RVTV, he slept in the RV every night. In recent years, some touring members have elected to rent a few rooms at cabins or hotels.
That won’t be the case for Monday’s stop in Diagonal, however.
“Diagonal is one of the places we are all staying in the RV, because there’s not a hotel there,” Murphy said. “There will be like eight people staying in the RV that night. That will be interesting.”
Murphy said the buildup to Monday’s stop in Diagonal has been fun, as people continue to ask about it.
“One of the things that’s been fun is the reaction from people in that area. They’ll say, ‘You do know how small Diagonal is, right?’” Murphy said. “The thing we’ve learned over time with RVTV stops is the most fun and best television doesn’t come from necessarily the biggest crowd. It’s having something to do and having people to talk to with interesting stories to tell.”
The RVs will be set up at Diagonal City Park, near the water tower, and WHO-HD will have live shots on the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.