Word that the International Tug-of-War between Fort Frances and International Falls is being revived this summer is welcomed news, indeed.
A collaboration between the local Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Club and the Backus Community Center in the Falls, the event is planned for Saturday, June 30 in conjunction with the annual dragon boat festival at the Sorting Gap Marina.
Sporting various names over the years, including “Peace Pull" and "Pulling for Peace,” the cross-border tug-of-war showdown initially was conceived as a friendly competition between the two town councils to promote International Peaceful Border Days.
Last held here in 2013, it did blossom over the years to include other “pulls," including one featuring "celebrities.” Alas, it also was torpedoed by Mother Nature in both 2012 and 2014 before organizational woes led to its unfortunate demise in 2015.
Thankfully, community groups from both sides of the border have come together to change that, which is great to hear because the International Tug-of-War is a unique event that holds so much potential for both Fort Frances and International Falls.
Other communities are reaping economic windfalls on everything from weather-prognosticating groundhogs and lake “monsters” to fruits of every variety. Here, we can promote a tug-of-war competition literally between two countries using a 1,200-foot rope over a river.
It is a golden opportunity to really put our area on the map in terms of attracting visitors and perhaps even bathing in the national spotlight.
Naturally, pulling off a top-notch event that possibly could grow into a multi-day festival requires a lot of planning and volunteers. Fortunately, two groups have agreed to take on the challenge to get the ball rolling again and hopefully it snowballs into the prestigious event it can—and should—be.
Holding the tug-of-war during the dragon boat festival, when people from out-of-town are here to compete anyway, certainly gives it instant attention that these visitors, in turn, can spread back in their home communities.
Who knows where it will go from there? But at least the first step has been taken to find out.