Relay of Voices visiting Lansing and Harpers Ferry this week

Tom Styrbicki and Victoria Bradford Styrbicki ... Submitted photo.

The Relay of Voices relay team will be coming into Lansing August 7 from La Crosse, WI and leaving August 8, and entering Harpers Ferry August 8 and leaving August 9 to move on to Guttenberg, and the public is invited to greet and meet the Relay of Voices relay team as they enter and leave each community. Lansing and Harpers Ferry will each host the relay team and its crew with a community potluck, local entertainment and an opportunity to gather along the Mississippi River and share local stories.

Relay of Voices (ROV) is a four-month expedition, July through November this year, from the headwaters to the mouth of the Mississippi River, and it will make its way along the Allamakee County border with the Mississippi River August 7-9. Spearheaded by Victoria Bradford Styrbicki and her husband, Tom, with the assistance of a relay team made up of support staff and regional volunteers, Relay of Voices embarks on a mission to collect individual stories across the Mississippi River region while connecting over 100 river towns along the journey.

Styrbicki and her team are listening for the voices of the river, the surrounding hills and valleys and the people who make their homes and live their lives along the Mississippi. The team approaches it in an artistic fashion using various forms of movement and listening with local participants to experience and document the ambiences of the area.

The Relay team is expected to depart La Crosse, WI at 8 a.m. Wednesday, August 7 and travel down Highway 35 to the Highway 82 dike crossing and Black Hawk Bridge, arriving at approximately 11 a.m. at Meehan Memorial Lansing Public Library at 515 Main Street in Lansing. An afternoon of interviews with local voices is planned, with a 5 p.m. open house and potluck meal with storytelling planned at Meehan Memorial Lansing Public Library.

Departing Lansing at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, August 8, the Relay team will travel south on the Great River Road (County Road X52) and is expected to arrive in Harpers Ferry around 10 a.m. Local townspeople will meet the group across from Mohn’s Fish Market on the Great River Road and bike, walk or run with them into town. Anyone wishing to participate in greeting ROV and escorting them to Harpers Ferry is welcomed to join in.

Upon arrival in Harpers Ferry, activities will include visits to the Harpers Ferry Cemetery (a/k/a Sandy Point Cemetery), Oil Springs Country School and local boat marinas to connect with individuals and hear their unique stories and experiences that come from living on or near the water. The relay team will enjoy a cruise on the Maiden Voyage with Captain Robert Vavra, who will offer insight into his personal connection with the river while also offering the ROV group the opportunity to witness the natural beauty of the valley surrounding them while absorbing the voices of the Mississippi River.

More storytelling and sharing with the community will take place in an evening gathering at Tillinghast Park with a social hour beginning at 5:30 p.m. followed by a potluck meal. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to bring a dish to pass and be part of this evening at the park. Some of the narratives will be in the form of music provided by Big Blue Sky, who will reflect their artistic relationship with the river in sound and song.

Friday morning, August 9 the group will depart Harpers Ferry at approximately 8 a.m., heading south to Guttenberg. Again, a group of local people will ride, walk or run with them as Harpers Ferry bids them farewell and safe travels.

Local residents are asked to consider participating in any facet of this event. For more information, visit or, more locally, contact Derva Burke, Librarian at the Meehan Memorial Lansing Public Library, at or 563-538-4693, and Sheila Diggins, President of the Harpers Ferry Boosters, Inc., at 319-361-7389 or at Everyone is encouraged to participate in the gatherings and community potlucks.

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