It could be the end of the line for the country’s only cross-state tug of war after 35 years.

Organizers of Tug Fest are at odds. One side says the competition isn’t fair.

At issue for the organizing committees is the Mississippi River itself.

It’s the playing field in the annual battle between LeClaire and Port Byron.

LeClaire thinks the river flow puts the Iowa team at a disadvantage.

They tug. They cheer. They share an event unlike any other.

“We both want the win we both want the W,” Brandon Smith from the LeClaire Tug Fest said.

And after getting skunked 11-0 last year and not winning since 2013, Team LeClaire has had enough.

“The current is stronger on the LeClaire side. You can see it in any drone footage,” Smith said.

Team Port Byron doesn’t buy it.

“I think we’re better with a rope and we have not messed with our pit,” Tammy Knapp from the Port Byron Tug Fest said.

So we have an argument to settle here. And it involves the river and where it curves here below the area where the tug rope crosses the river.

Is there actually a current advantage?

We asked Matthew Wilson, a hydrologist from the National Weather Service. He says the current is actually a little faster on the Illinois side.

“The science would seem to indicate Port Byron has a slight advantage over LeClaire,” Wilson concluded.

“So last year we brought up the idea of, ‘Let’s just have the women’s side switch,” Smith said. “You know, the women’s on each side switch to see how that goes and that was just met with a hard no.”

Knapp says the Illinois team tugging from Iowa is a deal-breaker.

“We would love to have the festival keep going,” Knapp said. “We’d love to have the festival this year next year and 30 years after. We told them last night we’d love to have Tug Fest but we’re not going to switch sides.

So LeClaire is now making plans for a land-based pull without a river and without Port Byron.

“We do have some good ideas, some good things coming up,” Smith said. “I can’t say everything right now, but it’s still going to be a big event.”

Potentially tugging a bit of Quad Cities tradition with it.