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It’s a small town, it’s a tight community, there’s a lot of pride here.
— Josh Sallows
First Tug Fest 1987  Jess Casilles, Don Johnson, Gary Knapp, Boots Knapp, & Swede Carlson

First Tug Fest 1987
Jess Casilles, Don Johnson, Gary Knapp, Boots Knapp, & Swede Carlson

In 1987, Scott Verbeckmoes while in Michigan saw a similar but smaller event and thought it would be a good idea to have one in Port Byron, it was a hard sell for the people of Illinois and Iowa to get it off the ground, but these original committee members succeeded:

Co- Chairmans Charles. “Boots” Knapp and Keith Speckman
Denise Bowers
Kathy Augsbuger
Patty Kemp
Connie Eckermann
Ciel Abbott
Fred & Lavern Walbusser
Frank and Sandy James

The original rope used up until its retirement in 2006 was purchased from Trever’s True Value, Port Byron, IL in 4 separate coils of 600’ each.  Jerry Oppendike spliced the ropes together for the 2400 feet needed to cross the river.  Thanks to Port Byron State Bank for lending the money to buy the first rope.

Don Johnson and Harry Cort from Iowa Illinois Gas and Electric put the rope on the reel and for several years helped put the rope across the river.  Jerry Lancaster was the first announcer of the event.  First Queen contest winner was Heidi Drummond.

The first year was also called Hobo days and the first tug was straight up Cherry Street from the docks.

The Alabaster Eagle is a traveling trophy that was originally purchased by Betty and Boots Knapp from Kliems in Bettendorf, Iowa.  Larry Tague made the showcase the following year.

These were the first, but the continued success is due to all of the volunteers who have come and gone over the years and a huge Thank you should be given to all who have participated in this great event.