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The 37th annual Miss Riverbottom was crowned over the weekend at the Spring Valley Boat Club. This year’s winner was Jerry McCann (center), as London Versace, of Detweiller Yacht Club, Peoria. Second place went to Keith Budzowski (left) of Starved Rock Yacht Club, Ottawa, and third place was Brad Waldron (right) of Shoreline Boat Club, Ottawa. More than 2,000 people are estimated to have attended the weekend event. This year’s theme was “Disco Divas — We’ve Got the Fever!” Submitted photo
Just two months after being flooded with 54 inches of water, Spring Valley Boat Club was up and running for its biggest event of the summer: the Miss Riverbottom contest.
The contest has been running for 37 years. It featured four days of activities and games leading up to the competition Saturday night.
The “pageant-style” event has one man from each of the entering clubs dress as a woman to compete in both swimsuit and talent routines. Last year, Steve Thompson of the SVBC won the contest, thus allowing the club to host the competition this year.
“We have been planning for a year,” said Miss Riverbottom co-chairman Tracey Jaegle. Jaegle and her husband Bob, who placed second in the competition two years ago at Shore Line boat club, Ottawa, have been members of the Spring Valley club for 25 years. She said they were excited to plan the contest and other weekend events.
“It’s been a great success so far,” she said.
The theme for this year’s contest was “Disco Divas – We’ve Got the Fever.” Seven clubs entered the contest with four from Ottawa boat clubs and three from Peoria clubs. Commodore Brian Pellegrini, the master of ceremonies for the event, trimmed his bread and wore a wig to give himself a ’70s look. Jaegle said some of the wives of the club members put together a dance routine to the hustle to open up the show.
In the end, Detweiller Yacht Club, Peoria took the title, with its contestant, Jerry McCann, edging out the second-place finisher from Starved Rock Yacht Club and with the Shoreline club finishing third.
Rain put a damper on the events Saturday morning as Jaegle had to decide if the time of the event would be pushed back or the stage had to be moved.
“We don’t want all our beautiful queens getting their hair wet,” she said.
Other events for the weekend included a taco fry, live music and games. Though not a fundraiser for the club, Jaegle said it does help bring in revenue. She added that the food was a big draw and the club worked hard to get the kitchen up and running after the April flood. Crews have been working for more than a month to refurbish the club, but the kitchen was the last project. It was cleared to open on Wednesday before the event. “Kudos to them for the amount of work they put in to getting the club up and running,” said Brandon Cox, commodore of Illinois River Basin Boating Association and member of the Henry Yacht Club, which hosted the event last year.
He added that the event was hard enough to plan without having to deal with a major renovation.
“We are not the only club that hosted it during adverse weather conditions,” Jaegle said. She said the club would have hosted the event anyway and could have moved it to a park or another location if the IRBBA approved.
Jaegle said they received a lot of support from members and people in the community through donations for the event. Euclid Beverage and City Beverage donated several free prizes for them to give away.
“It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun,” she said.
The last time the Spring Valley club hosted the contest was in 2006 when Pellegrini won the event.
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