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Rock Island Arsenal celebrating 160 years this weekend

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. That includes the annual 5k and 10k runs as well as entertainment all day.

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. — The Rock Island Arsenal will celebrate its 160th anniversary on May 21.

May 21 is also Armed Forces Day in the U.S., and it is the first time the two celebrations have been scheduled for the same day, according to an Arsenal historian.

"We don't have a chance to connect to the community as often as we'd like, and so the Armed Forces Day is a great way for us to open up to the public," said Colonel Todd Allison, the Rock Island Arsenal Garrison Commander.

As much as the Arsenal has been a constant in the Quad Cities area, the community here has been a constant through the Arsenal's history, Allison said.

"The history of the Arsenal is really incredible in how it connects to everything within the Quad Cities history," said Kevin Braafladt, an Army Sustainment Command Historian.

Braafladt said this weekend will also celebrate the Quad Cities area.

The event, which starts at 9 a.m. and goes until 3 p.m. on Saturday, will include the annual 5k and 10k races. Live entertainment, food trucks, petting zoos and military equipment displays will also be part of the festivities.

"Part of this is obviously a celebration and thanks for the military members here as well but it's a thanks to the community for everything that they've done to support the Arsenal over its history," Braafladt said.

In addition, anyone visiting Arsenal Island can participate in a self-guided tour, created by Arsenal staff. A brochure includes 29 different historical points on the Arsenal. 

A QR code scanned by your phone provides more information about each of the stops.

"This is your one-stop-shop guide for everything historic on the island," Braafladt said.

You can register for the 5k and 10k races here.

Admission to Arsenal Island is free and is open to the public. Arsenal staff asks that you bring a photo ID or driver's license and enter through the Rock Island gate. That entrance can be found by using the bridge from Rock Island or by driving south after using the Government Bridge from Davenport.

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