October 21, 2005

Overwhelming crowds, security, theaten Port Byron Tug-Fest

PORT BYRON, Ill. — Port Byron Police Chief Steve Rathburn’s surprise request to resign from his duties as head of Tugfest security has the mayor and at least one village trustee thinking of scaling back or scrapping the party that surrounds the annual tug-of-war contest with neighboring LeClaire, Iowa.

Rathburn’s request — brought up at a recent Village Board meeting — was voted down with Mayor Mike Ferretti casting the deciding vote. Still, Ferretti shares his police chief’s concern with the massive crowds and difficult law enforcement logistics surrounding the summertime event.

“I think the festival is outgrowing the village,” he said. “I believe there are some trustees on the board that feel that way as well. It’s lucky we’ve never had a catastrophe or fire where the crowd is congregated. It would be very hard to get necessary equipment to the area.”

Ferretti said he is not in favor of halting next year’s Tugfest, but “whether it will be there in 2007 is still up in the air.”

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