Washington River Festival and Cleanup 2013

James W. Rennick Riverfront Park - Washington, MO
Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Washington, Mo. is one of the most river-centric towns on the Lower Missouri River. The beautiful park overlooking the river is the ideal place to hold, not just a community river clean-up, but also a local river festival highlighting the town's connection to the river. 

This time the river rose up to meet us! The river was in flood stage, covering the lower parking lot at Rennick Riverfront Park. This forced us to move the river clean-up to land sites but the festival went on as planned.

70 volunteers helped cleanup the Riverfront Trail, the park, along Tiemann Rd and at Dundee removing a whopping 2.7 tons of trash!  We estimate over a thousand people attended the River Festival, enjoying the music, art and great informative booths by a bunch of local and regional organizations.

Thank you volunteers for helping out on land in Washington! Photo by Dan Fisher.

Rising River!

Massive rains upstream the previous Wednesday and Thursday meant we were watching river projections closely and had to make a rapid decision on how to adjust our plans. We knew the river would be in flood stage, so we knew we couldn't get folks on the river in boats. So on Friday our scout crew headed out to make a new plan. With some local knowledge from friends, they came up with a bunch of great sites. Unfortunately the local paper announced the cleanup was cancelled rather than changed, but we still had a great crew of folks show up to clean up. 

Proud river cleaner. Photo by Mike Smith

Missouri River Clean-up - by land

Our local organizer Mike Smith led a group of diehards out on the Riverfront Trail to clean a deposit of trash left from the 1993 flood. They retrieved 13 tires, carrying all the trash about 100 yards to the trail where Washington Parks Dept. employees picked it up later by truck.

Another large group including ten employees from our sponsor, Kohl's, headed to the abandoned railroad post Dundee, upriver between Washington and New Haven. A popular party spot and perennial illegal dump, it yielded a huge trailerful of trash, and enough tires to fill Bernie Arnold's truck bed.

Students from the University of Missouri WET club cleaned up in the park along Tiemann Rd. Other families scoured the area around Riverfront Park and the boat ramp all during the day.

The Kohl's volunteer team. Photo by Melanie Cheney

2013 Washington River Festival

Luckily the River Festival was on higher ground. The river came up to greet us! A great local committee headed by Gloria Attoun Bauermeister had organized an amazing afternoon of music, art, river education booths and activities for kids. Tasty food and local beer and wine were all on tap for what turned out to be a perfect spring day. Many families came early and stayed for the whole thing - there was tons of fun stuff for the kids to experience and participate in.

Browse this page to get an idea of all the great stuff going on next to the flooding river.

On the far right is Gloria Attoun, the River Festival organizer AND musician with Augusta Bottoms Consort. Photo by Melanie Cheney.

Entertainment Schedule

11 a.m. - Babaloo - Energizing and fun kids music with a natural twist
12 p.m. - World Bird Sanctuary - featuring birds of prey to include falcons, hawks, owls & vultures.  Sit back and enjoy an up close and personal view as some of the birds soar right over head!
1 p.m. - Augusta Bottoms Consort - Nature loving musicians with lots of different instruments & harmonies.
1:45 p.m. - Trash-to-Art Sculpture display and auction to benefit Missouri River Relief
2:30 p.m.- Terry Corcoran - an Irish singer with an amazing voice and also likes cleaning the river!
3:00 p.m.- The Texas Giants - Vintage country and rock from some really great folks!

Educational Booths

Check out the amazing list of presenters on the right!

Hands-on Art

Fun and educational activities for the whole family!

  • Local teachers Ryan Snider and Lou Baczewski transformed river trash into art right on the festival grounds. Those pieces, and other sculptures that had been donated were auctioned off to benefit River Relief.
  • "What the River Means To Me" - local students composed poems, paintings and essays on their relationship to the river. Selections were on display at the festival and will head next to the public library.
  • "Rambling River Quilt", a beautiful collaboration between regional fiber artists will be on display.
  • Charlene Wagonner from Greenway Network repurposed t-shirt scrap to make jewelry.


12 p.m. - 1 p.m. - Yoga on the lawn with Present Moment Yoga and Mindful Movement

1:30 p.m. - Botanical Walk with Bill Davit (meet at the entertainment area)

Biologist Emily Pherigo lets students touch a soft-shelled turtle at the University of Missouri "Day on the River" event in Washington. Photo by Melanie Cheney.

"Day on the River" Education Event

On Tuesday, April 16, Missouri River Relief hosted about 200 local elementary students for a day of river education at the pavilion at Rennick Riverfront Park. Students toured a series of educational booths and got to watch a presentation by the World Bird Sanctuary. The weather was cold and stormy, but the teachers, students and presenters were flexible enough to make it work!

Many of the students wrote essays before and after the event while others did drawings or wrote poems about the river that were on display during the River Festival. You can see a few of those here.

Click here to view photos of the event.

Here's a list of the presentations:

  • Missouri River Relief - "Cleaning the Big Muddy"
  • University of Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit - "Touch Missouri River Fish"
  • Missouri Stream Team - "Watching Water Quality"
  • Missouri River Relief - "Taming the Big Muddy"

Trash Tally:

103 Bags of Trash!

24 Tires
1 Screwdriver
1 – 55 gal. plastic trash Can
1 – 5 gal. plastic Bucket
1 – 5 gal. Water Cooler
1 – 5 gal. Metal Gas Can
1 Refrigerator
1 bag of Scrap Metal
2 - 30 gallon Plastic Tubs(1 yellow, 1 green)
1 Plastic Crate
3 License Plates
1 Car Bumper
1 Honda Side Mirror
1 Hubcap – Desoto
1 Carburetor
4 TV’s
2 - 10’ pieces of Rebar
2 - 20’ corrugated Plastic Pipe
3 unopened bottles Bacardi Raz
1 Downspout Guttering
1 iron Fence Post
1 wooden Fence Post
1 metal Sheeting
1 clay Drain Pipe
1 Refrigerator Coil
1 “No Trespassing” Sign
1 Highway Directional Sign
1 large piece of Carpet
1 Swimming Pool liner (folded over and over into the mud)
1 turquoise Oven Door – Hotpoint
1 Key to a Four Wheeler
1 pair of Long Underwear
1 Computer Mother Board
1 plastic Office Chair Mat
1 Toilet Pieces
1 Cabinet
1 Door
1 Baby Doll Arm
1 Shaving Crème – travel size
1 iron Commemorative Plaque – “Matt Ferguson, 1894 to 1969”
1 bag of Sudafed wrappers
1 pile of Roof Shingles

Washington Festival and Cleanup Results


Festival Attendees: an estimated 1,000 festival attendees!!

  • Cleanup Volunteers: 72
  • River Relief Crew: 16
  • “Day on the River” Students & Teachers:  200 (4th, 5th, & 6th grade students from St. Francis Borgia, Washington West Elementary School, Labadie Elementary and Our Lady of Lourdes)
  •  “What the River Means to Me” Entries:  266 poems, artwork and essays
  • Boats: 0 – Due to river levels, we had to switch to a land-based clean-up
  • Land Sites: 5 (Riverfront Park, Riverfront Park Trail, Lions Lake/Tieman Dr., Dundee Road & River Access, Augusta Bottoms Rd. scour holes)
  • Miles Cleaned: 5 miles
  • River Stage: 21.5-ft. @ Washington gauge (Flood Stage)
  • Landfill: 2.2 tons
  • Scrap Metal: 0.09 tons
  • Tires: 24 - 0.42 tons

Total Trash Tonnage: 2.7 tons

Groups Participating: Missouri River Relief crew, Missouri River Festival committee, City of Washington Parks and Rec Department, Kohl’s Cares, Clean Stream Crusaders, The Mighty Stream Team 211, Wading 4 Mayflies, St. Peters UCC, Ross Braun Stream Team 4746, Fish, Washington Environmental Club, Mizzou Water & Environment Technologists (WET)

A Big Muddy Thank You To Our Event Sponsors:

River Festival Highlights

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