By Kevin Fox
The quiet town of St. Francisville was invaded on Tuesday evening, July 31st.
The invaders, instead of taking the faster approach of Highway 27, slipped into town via the Des Moines River. The group was the 2007 Great River Rumble, and this year marks the 13th annual trip for the group that has made floats in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Approximately 140 people participated in the float that, is comprised of around 85 watercraft with 80% being kayaks and 20% canoes. There were also a couple conventional boats serving as support boats.
The 2007 Great River Rumble began their trip in Selma, Iowa on Saturday, July 28 and upon their arrival at St. Francisville, they had traveled around 57 miles. When arriving at their final destination in Hannibal, on August 4 they will have traveled 124 miles. Although the group has floated the Mississippi several times over the preceding years, this was their first trip on the Des Moines.
According to Event Chairman, Rex Klein, from Richton Park, Illinois, "Everyone is having a great time. We have people from 16 to 88 years of age and for some they have been on every trip and others this is their first trip. Our biggest concern is heat and sunburn so we use plenty of sun block and drink a lot of water. It’s also important to stay loose. We also have a number of water sprayers to keep everyone cooled down. Our support boats are also of great benefit in watching for everyone. While on the Des Moines River we have two powerboats, but once we get to the Mississippi we will have five support boats. We just have a great crew of support people who assist us in a variety of ways. Those participating pay $125.00 for the week or $25.00 a day. This includes the hauling of their gear and boats, camping fees and permits, insurance, and showers and other incidentals. This trip down the Des Moines has been a fun trip."
The 2007 Great River Rumble has Wenonah Canoe / Current Designs out of Wenonah, Minnesota as their major sponsor of the annual trip and they also sponsor the major shuttle service for the group. The decision as to which river is floated is decided upon during a November meeting in the Quad Cities.