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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Tell your river tidbits

Public TV producers looking for little–known facts for new series; segment to be filmed on riverfront in August.


A Minnesota television production team is looking for a few offbeat stories about Burlington to include in a future public broadcasting series on communities along the Upper Mississippi River.

The production, titled "Back on the Mississippi — Hidden Trails, Offbeat Tales," is scheduled to appear on PBS stations in the Midwest next July.

Executive producer and program host Charles "Chuck" Strinz said he was surprised after traveling the back roads along the river that "certain pieces of contemporary life across America — and around the world — originated on the shores and in small towns along the Upper Mississippi River."

The show's producers aren't looking for touristy or historical stories for this piece. They're looking for the unusual, the offbeat, the "Gee, I didn't know that" type of story, according to Marketing Director Paul Markland.

For example, they plan to note in the show that Wild West cowboy Buffalo Bill Cody was born in LeClaire, and that the definition of "deadline" originated in a Civil War prison on Arsenal Island at Rock Island, Ill.

The team plans to begin filming at Burlington on Aug. 11, but so far they don't have a local story to tell.

Markland said the team plans to film the riverfront and Great River Bridge, then head for Oquawka, Ill., to tell the tale of the death of the African elephant and circus performer Norma Jean and her burial in the small river town.

Markland said if someone comes up with an unusual or offbeat story out of Burlington, the producers will consider filming it here as the first segment of the program.

The Burlington Area Convention and Tourism Bureau and Pzazz Best Western have joined the effort and will receive recognition in the film's credits. Other area businesses or benefactors can get similar credit for financially supporting the production.

The program is an "officially sanctioned project" of Grand Excursion 2004, an initiative recognizing the cultural and economic renewal of more than 40 cities along the Upper Mississippi River.

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