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By Jonas Weir
Since Missouri River Relief was founded fourteen years ago, the organization’s clean-up crews—who have picked up more than 756 tons of garbage—have found a lot of strange items in the Big Muddy: pianos and hot tubs and all the tires, boots, and other trash you might imagine.
Over the past two days while traveling about thirty miles from Glasgow to Boonville, a team of nine, ten if you include their black lab Frieda, has filled up two twenty-four-foot motor boats with refuse. And there has been some interesting finds, including a message in a bottle from St. Joseph and an empty beer keg.
“It was probably some frat guys who ditched it after an island party,” says Melanie Cheney, assistant program manager at Missouri River Relief.
The clean-up from Glasgow to Boonville is part of the 2014 Big Muddy Clean Sweep, which started September 6 in Brunswick and ends with in Hermann with the Oktoberfest Trash Bash on October 18. And this stretch of the river might be River Relief Program Director Steve Schnarr’s favorite.
“It’s very remote,” he says. “It has beautiful sandbars and islands.”
Steve has been working in some capacity with Missouri River Relief since the beginning and has traveled most of the expanse of the Missouri River, from South Dakota to St. Louis. But his favorite stretches are in Mid-Missouri. Hermann to New Haven has gorgeous bluffs, Glasgow to Boonville has the aforementioned sandbars, and it’s hard to beat the beauty of Rocheport. And lucky for him and the rest of the team, they get spend more time here with the first ever Boonville River Festival.
The festival starts with a morning clean-up that launches at the Franklin Island Conservation Area. All volunteers from that morning will be rewarded with a free lunch afterward, provided by Isle of Capri. After the clean-up, the festival will start at 11 AM in the Isle of Capri Casino parking lot. There will be educational booths, live music, food from the Isle of Capri’s Farmer’s Pick Buffet, wine from Cooper’s Oak Winery in Boonville, and craft beer from Logboat Brewing Company in Columbia.
“We have a lot of fun things lined up, “ says Jen Davis, the River Relief intern and Boonville native who organized the festival. “Most of the booths will be nonprofits, so that will be interesting.”
Although the River Festival might be the marquee event of the Clean Sweep, there are plenty more chances to help out and have fun this fall, including a stop at Cooper’s Landing near Columbia and a stop in Jefferson City on October 4.