The Mississippi River town of LeClaire is preparing for its first ever Eagle Festival this weekend.

LeClaire Tourism Manager, Cindy Bruhn, says they’ve had some smaller events in recent years that had a good turnout. “We are in an area that’s very popular for eagle watching. We have talked about it for a while doing something a little bigger — and had a couple of years off over COVID,” she says. “So we decided to do something a little bigger this year, and we were able to get a grant from Travel Iowa.”

There are events planned for Saturday, and then Sunday they have an indoor event with a storyteller, some live eagles, a photographer showing his eagle photos, and talking about eagles in general. There will also be spotting scopes set up on rooftops. Bruhn says you can often see the eagles flying around the area.

“Just downriver from us is Lock and Damn 14 And there are some trees down there that they like to hang out in,” she says. “And then they go after the fish that are coming through as a lock and dam there. They can, they can grab the fish down there, but we do see them any nice tall tree along the river they like to be in.” She says the eagles are more active when it is colder outside — and it’s always exciting to see them.

“They’re fun to see in the air, and to see them up close is really something. So we’re excited to be able to have the World Bird Sanctuary people are coming from St. Louis, they’re the ones bringing the live eagles,” Bruhn says.”So we’re very excited. I think they’ll just add something very interesting that people don’t get to see every day up close.” Bruhn says the state grant has allowed them to fund the festival and also advertise it, to bring more attention to the community.

“We are open during the winter, you know, not just a tourist town in the summer, and it’s a great thing for people who live here locally and are nearby also because there’s a lot of other fun things to do with shopping and dining and our other attractions with the Buffalo Bill Museum here,” she says. “So there really is a lot of things to do and we want people to you know, be aware of that in the winter too.”

To see the full schedule, go to www.visitleclaire.com. Down the Mississippi River south of LeClaire, Keokuk is holding its Bald Eagle Appreciation Days this weekend as well. See the Keokuk schedule of events at keokukiowatourism.org.

Radio Iowa