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35th Annual Tug Fest This Weekend

Tug Fest LeClaire

A truly unique competition will be held in the Quad Cities this weekend. For 2 1/2 hours the Mississippi River will be closed for the annual interstate tug-of-war between LeClaire, Iowa and Port Byron, Illinois.

Tug Fest LeClaire

On Saturday, a 2,700 foot rope, weighing nearly 700 pounds, will be stretched across the river. Eleven teams from each town will tug for three minutes.

LeClaire spokesman Barry Long says all traffic on the river will stop from 12:30 to 3 pm.

"The Coast Guard issues a permit and the Coast Guard sends boats up, the DNR, LeClaire Fire, Port Byron Fire, Princeton Fire, the sheriff's department, so there's lots of boats out there patrolling the waters."

Tug Fest started 35 years ago when two bar owners, one from each town, were talking, and somehow came up with the idea of a cross-the-river tug-of-war.

Long says the event has since turned into a three day festival with food, entertainment, parades, and fireworks - with a huge economic impact on the two small towns.

"There's so many people that come in and out of LeClaire, Iowa. I kind of look around when I'm walking around and see all the license plates, from like 15 states, so I think it's a pretty big deal for LeClaire to have Tug Fest."

For the actual tug, there are 10 men's teams and one women's team, with the winner taking the Alabaster Eagle trophy, and bragging rights for a year.

Currently, Illinois leads Iowa in overall victories 22 years to 13.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.