Eastern Iowans shouldn’t be too surprised if they hear some grunting in the distance today. The Scott County town of LeClaire is hosting its annual Tugfest, a two state tug-of-war across the Mississippi River. Angie Mapes is coordinating the event and explains how it works. There’s a team on the Illinois side and a team on the Iowa side and they’re both in a tug pit. A 24-hundred-foot-long rope spans the river and the tugs last three minutes. Whoever pulls the most rope is the winner. The rope weighs 680 pounds dry but Mapes says they’ve never tried to weigh it wet. She says 25-thousand spectators are expected.Mapes says there’s a tremendous rivalry between the teams. Iowa currently leads the series with nine wins to Illinois’ seven. The winning state keeps a hand-carved alabaster statue of a bald eagle until the next year. There are 11 teams from each state — the men’s teams have 20 members each and the women’s teams have 25 members. Mapes describes the types of people who take part in the battle.Weight lifters, ultimate fighters, farmers, farmer’s children — usually the bigger, the better, the stronger. LeClaire hosts a carnival starting tonight while the tug-offs begin tomorrow afternoon at one o’clock. For more information, surf to “www.tugfest.com”.
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