Port Byron offers many amenities found in large cities with the mid-western charm of a small community. A great place to raise a family, open a business, or just relax. As part of the Quad City area, we have close access to arts, sports, entertainment, outdoor activities, top healthcare facilities, and higher education.
Meet Will B. Rolling, a rider perched atop his Penny Farthing looking out over the Mississippi River and the Great River Trail. At 30′ tall he has a spectacular view and is a can’t-miss attraction in Port Byron. Erected on November 13, 2013 along the Great River Trail in Port Byron, Will B. Rolling was a gift to the people of Port Byron from former mayor Lawrence Bay and his wife Carol.
The giant fiberglass rider atop an equally giant high wheel is a replica of Ben Bikin’ in Sparta, Wis., which the city uses to help market itself as the Bicycle Capital of America. The Gay Nineties-style cyclist arrived on one flatbed-truck Thursday, and his bicycle arrived on another. A team from FAST Corp., which made the statue, raised, welded and secured it on a concrete slab along the Great River Trial during a several-hour assembly process.
It was a gift to the village from former mayor Larry Bay and his wife, Carol, who watched the whole process. Their $60,000 investment is intended to promote the riverfront, the village, cycling and good health. They changed the color scheme from Ben Bikin’s yellow trousers and red jacket to white trousers and a blue jacket (representing the water and sky), spicing it up with John Deere green for his tie and hat band.
“We wanted to create our own attraction, because this is our bike,” Larry Bay said. “It should attract a lot of visitors to Port Byron, and that’s the idea. It’s going to be a landmark.”
Will B. Rolling is the name of a 30′ high statue of a rider perched atop his Penny-farthing. Erected on November 13, 2013 along the Great River Trail in Port Byron, the statue was a gift to the village from former mayor Lawrence Bay and his wife Carol. The “Will B. Rolling” statue was inspired by, and made from the same mold as, a statue named “Ben Bikin'” in Sparta, Wisconsin, and each year in October there is a bicycle-ride event from Port Byron to Sparta, called the “Will to Ben.”
On April 25, 2014 River Action awarded Will B. Rolling the 2014 Eddy Award for Art.
The event of the year in this small town is the Great River Tug Fest, held since 1987 on the second full weekend in August. Following a fireworks display on Friday night, the Mississippi River is closed on Saturday afternoon. The tug-of-war is made up of 10 men teams of 20 and one woman’s team of 25. After a large rope is pulled across the river to Le Claire, Iowa, a tug of war takes place. The side with the most wins gets bragging rights for the year, along with the traveling alabaster trophy. Port Byron, the 2016 champion, holds an overall record of 19-11 in the competition. The rope used for the tug is 2700 feet in length and weighs about 700 lbs. Tug Fest is the only event in the United States that allows the Mississippi River to be closed down. The women on the Illinois side are the only undefeated team in Tug Fest history.
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