Washington River Festival & Missouri River Cleanup 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008
Washington Riverfront Park, Washington, Missouri

Missouri River Cleanup

As soon as the word came in that the lower parking lot at Washington Riverfront Park was going to be flooded during the weekend of our scheduled clean-up, we realized we had to cancel the event.

With no space left to stage a public clean-up and essentially no banks to drop volunteers off on to clean-up, we made a decision. We cancelled the public volunteer clean-up event but vowed to put our trained crew out on the river to pick up what floating trash we could from our boats.

Because the River Festival was located on higher ground, it could go on as planned. Our clean-up would become part of the whole festival atmosphere, and folks on bankside could get a hint of what kind of junk was floating by as they marvelled at the flooding river.

We attacked the river in force, with our two plate boats and one of our Bass Trackers. Each boat was supplied with nets, tools and even frog gigs and a harpoon. Boats would nose into drift piles while all on board would net, scoop, spear and grab all the trash in reach. Coast Guard buoys were towed into shore and a refrigerator was hoisted over the gunwales on board.

Working from the boats, we covered some serious miles...15.4 in all. It was a productive haul for so few workers, while crews of kids walked the park picking up bags of trash and recycling them.

Photo by Dory Colbert
Washington River Festival

Soon after Washington high school teacher Mike Smith and Missouri River Relief decided on a date for a Washington clean-up, Mike’s friend Gloria floated the idea of a River Festival. She had in mind a day to not just clean-up the river, but to celebrate the river through education and music.

And she took off from there! The festival included educational exhibits on Missouri River history, biology and ecology and advocacy. Kid’s activities drew in the children to thinking about fish, the river and their place in it all. Music, much of it centered on the river or in engaging the audience (especially children), flowed all day long. The event kicked off with a presentation by the World Bird Sanctuary, with owls, hawks and turkey vultures present to give the audience a close-up view of what they ordinarily see high in the sky above.

Photo by Dory Colbert

Local vendors participated in an experiment for the city of Washington: create as much of a “trash-less” event as possible. Plastic, glass and aluminum were recycled. Vendors were required to use corn-starch-based biodegradable plates and containers (supplied by Gloria and the festival). These were collected separately to be composted at a local tree farm.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Photo by Gloria Attoun.

The mission of the festival was to engage a diverse citizenry in a celebration of a natural resource that is integral to the history of Washington, but is not often celebrated.

Once again, a Missouri River Relief Cleanup (even one ultimately cancelled by that same river’s whims) provided a networking opportunity for river lovers to create something even bigger.

Photo by Gloria Attoun

Trash Tally

  • 13  bags of trash (5 bags of plastic recycled)
  • 23  tires on rims
  • 1  refrigerator
  • 2  metal refrigerator racks
  • 7  large chunks of Styrofoam (countless small chunks)
  • 2  coolers
  • 3  plastic 5-gallon buckets
  • 1  55-gallon metal drum
  • 1  glass bottle of Diazonon insecticide
  • 1  glass Clorox bottle circa 1951  Coast Guard navigation buoys
  • 2  55-gallon plastic barrels
  • 4  propane tanks
  • 1  6-foot piece of black plastic drain tile
  • 33 balls (all types and sizes)
  • 2  jugs of liquid oil-based wood stain
  • 3  duck decoys

Washington River Cleanup and Festival Results

Check out the Results Brochure!

Festival Exhibitors

  • Area High School Students
  • Washington Historical Society
  • Washington Public Library
  • The Greenway Network
  • Leftovers, etc.
  • St. Louis/Midwest Turtle & Tortoise Society
  • Hillerman’s Nursery & Florist
  • The Open Space Council
  • US Geological Survey
  • Missouri Master Naturalists
  • Missouri Water Patrol
  • Missouri River Relief
  • Botanical Walk with Bill Davit
  • Shaw Nature Reserve
  • Bourbeuse Stream Team #3

Festival Entertainment

  • World Bird Sanctuary
  • River Songs
  • Babaloo
  • Greg Krone, Wayne Roy & Ginny Blankenship
  • Augusta Bottoms Consort

Event Sponsors

Cleanup programs like these would not be possible without our generous donors and sponsors.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources 

L-A-D Foundation

John & Alex Jansen

Washington Boat Club

Event Partners

Ameren UE



Bass Pro Shop

Gloria & Michael Bauermeister

City of Washington

Pat Jones

MannWell’s Coffee

Missouri Dept. of Conservation

Missouri Stream Team

Missouri River 340

Mike & Maria Smith

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Washington Missourian

Washington Parks & Rec. Dept.

Williams Brothers Meat Market

Ready for Action?

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