The Great River Rumble is an event that takes kayakers and canoers down various river channels in the Midwest before usually ending somewhere on the Mississippi. The event is in its' 22nd year and the river riders arrived in Hokah, Minnesota this afternoon for their second stop on their way to Prairie du Chien.
The carpet was rolled out, and it wasn't red, but it certainly felt like it for the nearly 200 kayakers and canoers that arrived in the small community of Hokah.This stop was one of 7 along the way until they reach their final destination with a celebratory banquet in Prairie du Chien. Bill Schoon, the Co-Landing Chair for the Hokah stop says that, "The Rumble is all about paddling for seven days and we always end up on the Mississippi, thus the Great River."
The journey started in Rushford, Minnesota. When they arrived in Hokah, all were greeted from some of the Hokah community. There were a lot of people on hand to help bring the kayaks and canoes in from the water to the dry grass. The canoes and kayaks were being taken from Thompson Creek and stored on the coinciding lawn. Rex Klein, the Chairman of the the Great River Rumble was humbled by the welcome and help they all received from the town of only 600 people. Rex adds, "I see they've got the boys and girls basketball team here helping us out. They're pretty strong! Helping us with all our canoes and kayaks getting out of the water. Lot of people involved, even the stores and restaurants get involved. Saying there is going to be extra people, going to need extra drink, food, ice....we go through a lot of ice." The reason for the ice Schoon says, "A beer always taste best after arriving at each stop."
Kayakers and canoers have joined the journey from as far west as California and as far east as Yonkers, New York. So you might be wondering what attracts the wide array from various states. Rex says, "They want to paddle the Midwest and the Mississippi. And the other thing too is, this is the biggest, organized canoe and kayak events in the United States that go this many days. There's a lot of 1-2 day events, but the full 7 days here."
The paddlers will camp out in Hokah for the night and will leave early Tuesday morning with full stomachs provided by a caring community. The Hokah Fire Department will provide a spaghetti dinner for all the Rumblers tonight. Klein was grateful in saying, "Everything is prearranged months in advance. We will be up in town tonight. The fire department is going to do meals for us. We're going to be up at the City Park with the waterfall, swimming pool, and we're going to have some entertainment come in tonight."
The next stop on the 92 mile trek will take the large group to Brownsville, Minnesota which is another 11 mile stretch. They are slated to arrive in Prairie du Chien on Saturday, August 5th with a farewell banquet.