September 23, 2014

“The Boonville River Cleanup and Festival Afterglow”

Joan Read and Jennifer Davis were our local Boonville rally team for our 2014 series of events, part of the Big Muddy Clean Sweep. They both worked the community up and down to raise support, funding and volunteers from the community for our Boonville River Festival and Missouri River Cleanup. Joan writes a weekly column for the Boonville Daily News. She shared this article with us that will be published this Friday.

Thank you for everything Joan!

Here's her article -

“The Boonville River Cleanup and Festival Afterglow”
by Joan Read to be published in the Boonville Daily News - Sept. 28

Many of my friends now talk about “pulling a Joan” when they mine recyclables out of trash cans or pick up litter.  While some say I’m dedicated, or perhaps eccentric, my efforts now seem quite small compared to Missouri River Relief!

They floated into town on Tuesday and set up camp at Franklin Island Conservation Area.  The clean-up last weekend was especially challenging. We were at flood stage until Wednesday and the river dropped seven feet by Saturday! Scouting and identifying points of entry was difficult.  They boated up and down the river both Thursday and Friday assessing, and then reassessing bank access given all the mud and another foot drop by Saturday morning.   

As the week progressed, more and more core volunteers joined MRR’s team. Each evening after dinner, we formed a circle around the camp fire strategizing for the next day’s activities. Friday evening’s session was fascinating. After the huge list of tasks were assigned, the group sprung into action.  Timeline – The cook starts preparing breakfast at 5:00 am, boat launchers are to start putting five boats in the river by 7:00 am or earlier, and starting at 8:30 am all volunteers are to be registered, dropped off, picked up and returned by noon so they can head over to the Festival.

Saturday morning came early.  During the busy festival set-up, each time I heard a boat motor by the Isle of Capri parking lot I laughed. I knew the boat landing was buzzing amid activity and many volunteers were experiencing the river by boat for their first time! I laughed again when volunteers started showing up at the festival, wearing their muddy t-shirts and boots like a badge of honor!  Stories abounded and trash contest items appeared - 200 Volunteers!!!  The educational booths, kid activities, art car and truck, youth art, vegetarian wrap, and music were all wonderful!  Too soon, it was all over. It was surreal as I wandered around the parking lot in a daze.  As I searched for litter, savoring the memories, I was amazed.  I only found a partial handful of litter!

I again joined the crew and mosquitoes around the campfire that night. Each in turn shared their highlights of the day.  They were impressed with the turnout, festival and loved Boonville! I eagerly listened to their highlights during the clean-up. I could clearly visualize one volunteer searching for a 2x4 in the woods which was used to pry out a submerged metal love seat and another person laboring as she rolled a tractor tire ¼ mile to enter in the trash contest.  The crew found their strategically placed pallets did effectively get people up on the bank safely, but weren’t anticipating the slippery slide propelling volunteers back into the boat – still they kept everybody safe!  The stories were mesmerizing. When it was my turn, I shared my highlights while expressing my admiration and sincere gratitude for all their efforts.

As time allows, our activities will be updated on their website -  While you are checking out our photos and trash tallies under “past clean-up events”, consider a donation – As individuals and a river town, we need to keep these devoted River Stewards afloat!!    

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