Farro to take the helm of LeClaire’s Buffalo Bill Museum 

Rita Farro has been named as the newest executive director of the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire.

Rita Farro has been named as the newest executive director of the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire.

Ms. Farro will take over the day-to-day duties of the position and succeeds Bob Schiffke. A devoted champion of the museum, Mr. Schiffke now will be its executive director emeritus. 

Ms. Farro becomes only the fourth executive director in the history of the regional museum. The popular LeClaire tourist attraction was founded by the town’s women’s club in 1957.

Otto Ewoldt served as the museum’s first executive director for more than 30 years before he was succeeded by Mary Ahlgren. Mr. Schiffke became executive director in 2010, with Farro assuming the position in late 2023. The LeClaire Chamber of Commerce recently presented Mr. Schiffke with its Ed DeSilva Community Award for his work with the museum.

“The Buffalo Bill Museum is a quirky place, and you just fall in love with it,” Ms. Farro said in a news release announcing her appointment. “One of my favorite exhibits is the treadmill that was run by a dog that made butter. And we have an actual tugboat. The Lone Star is so unique – and it’s amazing that visitors can climb aboard and explore the crew quarters, the pilot house, etc.”

Ms. Farro even has a personal connection to the boat. In 1967, she was a passenger on the Lone Star as it made its final voyage to LeClaire. Her father, Glenn Little, a local businessman, and Glen Suiter, a local banker, were instrumental in inking the deal that brought the Lone Star – the last working wood-hulled boat on the Mississippi River – to the LeClaire riverfront.

Her brother, Calvin, served on the crew that worked to dry-dock the boat, which then braved the outdoor elements for more than 30 years. Then in 2008, the Buffalo Bill Museum raised nearly $1 million to add the glass building that now protects the Lone Star.

Born and raised in nearby Princeton, Iowa, Ms. Farro became involved in the sewing industry. She owned a fabric store and became a sewing machine dealer. Along the way, she wrote several books and launched a successful career as a professional speaker.

For 10 years, she worked as the marketing director for the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Washington. The expo is the largest consumer sewing show in the United States.

“On paper, my experience in the sewing industry doesn’t seem like a good fit to become the

executive director of a regional history museum,” she said in the release. “But I believe people often end up in exactly the right place at the right time. And, for me, the Buffalo Bill Museum is where I’m supposed to be. The future is bright. We have some very exciting things happening and I’m thrilled to be a part of the next chapter.”

She steps into her new role just as the museum has a host of festivities planned to celebrate its namesake. 

On Sunday, Feb. 25, museum supporters are invited to a breakfast from 9-11 a.m. at Happy Joe’s with Buffalo Bill. That event will be followed by a Buffalo Bill Birthday Party from noon to 4 p.m. at the museum. Wayne Rettig, a Buffalo Bill impersonator from Wisconsin, will be on hand for both events. Admission is $1 for the birthday party. 

The Buffalo Bill Birthday Party will be the official launch for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show (BBWWS) coming to LeClaire on June 29 and 30. 

The Buffalo Bill Museum is located at 199 N. Front St. on LeClaire’s levee. For more information, visit www.buffalobillmuseumleclaire.com.

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