Illinois whips Iowa in Great River Tug
Port Byron has won 22 of the 33 years; Illinois women remain undefeated
By Ted Cox
Illinois thrashed Iowa Saturday in the annual Great River Tug across the Mississippi River, according to multiple media reports.
Port Byron won 10 of the 11 pulls as teams from the Illinois side and from LeClaire on the Iowa side took turns trying to pull the 2,700-foot-long, 680-pound rope between them out of the Mississippi and then maintain their position against the other team for three minutes.
Illinois has now won two-thirds of the 33 Tug Fests across the Mississippi since the annual event began in 1987, to build up a 22-11 advantage. Since the two states were tied at 10 apiece in 2006, Port Byron has won 12 of the last 13.
Even more noteworthy is that the Illinois women’s team remained unbeaten, winning for the 16th straight year since the 25-woman pull was added to the Tug Fest. The 10 other pulls all pit teams of 20 — sometimes co-ed, sometimes all men — against one another.
The annual Great River Tug Fest is an excuse to party on both sides of the Mississippi as it draws thousands to both shorelines with events including carnivals, music, arm wrestling, and even a children’s tug-of-war.
Chad Christy, head tugmaster of the LeClaire team, told the Quad City Times that the high river this year meant the current was stronger on the Iowa side, putting his squad at a disadvantage.
“We all love the event,” he said. “It’s really not Iowa versus Illinois. It’s Iowa versus the river and Illinois versus the river.”
You keep telling yourselves that, Hawkeyes. But for the 12th time in the last 13 years the Alabaster Eagle travel trophy is staying put in Port Byron, Ill.