Relay for Voices

Members of the Elsberry community greeted Victoria Bradford Styrbicki as she made her way from Louisiana on Thursday, Aug. 29 around 10:30 a.m. Signs welcoming her on the Relay for Voices event were held and she received a police escort the rest of way into town. Many folks were outside their businesses cheering on Styrbicki as she finished the 26 mile trek. 

More than a year of planning came to culmination Thursday morning as Relay for Voices made it’s stop in Elsberry.

Relay of Voices is a four-month long expedition from the Headwaters to the Mouth of the Mississippi River.

Spearheaded by Victoria Bradford Styrbicki with the assistance of a “relay team” made up of support staff and regional volunteers, Relay embarked on a mission to collect individual stories across the Mississippi River region. The entire endeavor will take place from July through November 2019. 

Relay has been working with 104 communities, 20 to 40 miles apart, with daily stops on the expedition as it travels downriver through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, finishing at the Mouth of the River at the Gulf of Mexico.

“We want to create a platform for listening with the body in and around the communities of the Mississippi River,” says Executive and Artistic Director,  Styrbicki. “As we build a physical vocabulary drawn from the lives of the people of Elsberry. Through this, we hope a story emerges that resonates beyond the river and connects all Americans. Through accumulation and just being present, we hope to be a catalyst for all the voices of Elsberry while also providing insightful data for scientific purposes.”

During their visit the Elsberry community assembled a broad cross-section of “voices” from different age groups, cultural backgrounds, professions, as well as relationships to the river. Those participating included: Terrie Harper, Alderman and lifelong resident for generations, Wayne and Judy Lovelace, owners of Forrest Keeling Nursery, Lynda Spiker, representative of the Elsberry Historic Preservation Society, Craig Koch, Mississippi River resident for over 30 years and Lisa Hoechst, local realtor and member of the family who owns the Elsberry caves.