Towin' on the River 

We live right on its banks but for a lot of us it might be the most regularly overlooked and under appreciated fact of our existence here. We're talking about the mighty Mississippi in all its brawling beauty on that southward run to the sea. And if you want a perfect glimpse of the life of a small Mississippi River town, you can't do better than a visit to Grafton -- especially this weekend during the Shiver Me Timbers Towboat Festival (Water and Market streets, Grafton, Illinois; 618-535-5759 or www.greatriverroad.com). From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (July 27 and 28), the festival offers tours of the towboats; it's a neat opportunity to learn more about these humble yet vitally important stewards of our great waterway. Without the essential grunt work performed by towboats and their crews, commerce on the Mississippi would tank. In addition to spotlighting the working-boating life, the event also features a plethora of specials and activities at a long list of participating Grafton restaurants and businesses. Free, family-perfect fun on the Mississippi -- keep on chooglin', Grafton.
Sat., July 27; Sun., July 28, 2013

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