Unfortunately, the Washington River Festival and Cleanup was cancelled. There was so much hard work and energy was put in to this event, making it difficult to pull the plug but it ultimately came down to the safety of our volunteers and visitors. We appreciate all of the people, near and far, who were going to join us Saturday!
On Wednesday, the River Relief crew and a few staff members caravanned from the boatyard to Washington, MO to prepare for the cleanup. We set up camp at Gloria Attoun-Bauermeister and Michael Bauermeister’s land, a crowd favorite among MRR! The property lies right by the Katy Trail and a short drive to the Washington Riverfront.
Bright and early Thursday morning (19th), the education team and a few crew members headed to the riverfront to host 128 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students from Washington. We were excited to introduce the history and ecology of the Missouri River, help students create a watercolor, and introduce them to some of the fish that call this river home. A Big Muddy thank you to Kate Kresse and Gloria Attoun-Bauermeister for organizing this program, and our amazing presenters and volunteers who made this program possible. Click here to see the photos from Thursday's education event.
When the afternoon hit, so did some pretty gnarly thunderstorms. By the evening, we were receiving tornado warnings on our phones! The crew and staff watched the radars and weather warnings closely. We were ready to step into the basement of Michael’s studio if necessary but ultimately the storms passed and we were able to have a nice evening together.
Once again, the education team woke up bright and early Friday (20th) for their education program at Washington Middle School, where they presented to 109 middle school students. Students learned about Missouri River Relief and the history and ecology of the Missouri River. A big thank you to Stephanie Virgen for inviting us to spend the day with her students, we really enjoyed all of their questions!
That same day our volunteer crew headed out on the river to conduct our trash scout. Friday brought warm and sunny skies, making a pretty toasty trash scout out on the river! One of our boats headed upstream 5-miles and the other downstream 5-miles, looking for areas of high density trash and potential hazards for our volunteers.
As we checked out the weather forecasts for Saturday, we had pockets of storms picking up on the radar due to a cold front and warm front meeting right over Washington. Ultimately, the meteorologists thought we would have a nice break between 9AM and noon. Things were looking bright for the morning cleanup, so we went to bed with our fingers crossed but feeling hopeful.
Saturday morning came, and the radars were looking good. MRR crew and staff headed out at 7AM, splashed boats into the river and started setting up for the cleanup. About an hour before the cleanup, a large storm once thought to dissipate crept up the 44-corridor heading our way. The staff quickly came together and discussed what was about to happen. We decided to halt all operations and pull back on the cleanup. This was such a tough decision, but for the safety of the volunteers and ourselves, we needed to cancel.
We hung out under the pavilion at Riverfront Park, hoping the storm would break up so that we could still have the Washington River Festival. The Washington Area River Council put a great amount of work into the festival, making this extremely difficult to cancel as well. As soon as it was cancelled, one of our event sponsors and longtime friend of MRR, Bryan Haynes, invited us to their art studio just a couple blocks from the riverfront. We had a wonderful lunch provided by KT Caboose at Bryan Hayne’s Studio and Gallery. Thank you all for the wonderful food and hospitality, surrounded by breath-taking art pieces and great individuals.
The crew slowly woke up Sunday morning (22nd). We ate breakfast and broke down camp to head out. Steve Schnarr and a couple crew members headed out right after breakfast to grab our trash bags on the side of the river that we use to tag locations during the trash scout on Friday. Luckily, the river didn’t take them during the storm but the rising river claimed two. They were able to do a small cleanup on a particularly trashy spot, picking up 5 bags of trash and 2 tires! Thank you, Steve, Laura, Anthony, and Shawn!
After 2 education programs, a trash scout, and camping through 4 thunderstorms, we were very heartbroken to cancel the cleanup and festival. We would like to thank our sponsors, partners, crew, and friends from the Washington Area River Council for the hard work and support to make these large-scale events happen. We greatly appreciate all the exhibitors, musicians, and artists who stayed on-call until the very end! Additionally, we'd love to thank individuals from the City of Washington who were there to help with the cleanup, especially helping with emergency response.
Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather!
-Please check out and support the vendors, entertainment, and art that were going to be at the Washington Festival!-
Here's a sneak peek of what was going to be in art auction. Click the photo above to enlarge the image to get a better look. Keep an eye out for a silent auction! More information on this will come soon.
Photo album on Facebook
Total Volunteers: 38
Total Trash Tonnage: cleanup canceled due to thunderstorms
Washington Lion's Club
Justin Sincox - Edward Jones
Friends of Labadie