One of Keokuk's largest tourist events will celebrate a significant milestone over the weekend.
The 30th Annual Bald Eagle Appreciation Days will take place along the riverfront, at the River City Mall and at the Baymont Inn on Saturday, Jan. 18 & Sunday, Jan. 19.
Keokuk Tourism Director Kirk Brandenberger says it's hard to believe that the event has been around for three decades and that he has been involved in coordinating half of them.
He says the Iowa Department of Natural Resources actually created the event.
"It was started when the bald eagle was an endangered species," says Brandenberger. "They just wanted to bring awareness to the problems that the eagles were having 30 years ago."
He says Keokuk was selected because of the abundance of eagles in the area, thanks to the lock & dam and the nearby roosting areas in both Illinois and Iowa.
Brandenberger says local groups, such as his organization and the Lee County Conservation Board, worked together to keep it going once the government stopped funding the event.
He says about ten years ago, there was a weekend where the eagles did not arrive.
"We decided right then and there that we were going to make it a more rounded event," says Brandenberger. "An event more people would enjoy, whether we had eagles out there or not."
In fact, Brandenberger says there are even some people who attend the indoor seminars without even going out to look at the eagles.
He says for those who do venture outside, one of the best locations to watch them is at the George M. Verity Riverboat Museum.
Brandenberger says to mark the 30th anniversary, the Iowa State University insect zoo will have a special display at the event.
A full list of events can be found here.