Lots of tires, appliances, mattresses and a toilet are among the items that have been fished out of the Cedar River over the years. On Saturday, volunteers for the Cedar River Festival Group will climb into canoes again for the 34th time to pick up trash and debris.
“It’s actually Iowa’s longest running river cleanup,” said Kristin Guess, a board member with the organization. The goals continue to include safely cleaning up the river, raising awareness and advocating for preserving water.
Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. at Deerwood Park in Evansdale for registration and a safety meeting. They’ll be bused to the starting point of the cleanup route, Guess said, and paddle the three miles or so back to Deerwood Park, picking up debris along the way.
Many participants bring canoes, but canoes are available for volunteers if they don’t have one. “People are encouraged to sign up in advance at the Cedar River Festival Group’s Facebook page to make sure we have enough canoes for everyone. If someone has their own canoe or kayak, we encourage them to bring that. We have some people come to help who have never paddled on the water before,” she said.
Life jackets are provided. Participants should bring bug repellent, sunscreen and bottled water. Trash bags are provided by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Guess, who has been involved in the cleanup for 10 years, encourages each canoe group to choose their favorite piece of trash. At the end, a vote is taken to name the most unusual or unique piece.
“A toilet won two years ago, but typically we pull tons of tires out of the river every year, and we’ve seen car parts, bicycles, random metal pieces, lots of bottles and cans. Each year there is at least one mattress. We recycle as much as we can,” she noted.
Generally it amounts to three or four hours on the water. Lunch is provided at the end of the route.
On Sunday, a music festival will celebrate the cleanup from noon to 7 p.m. at Gateway Park in Cedar Falls. The public may attend free of charge.
Featured bands are Uncle Chuck and Friends, Walking Ded Zeppelin, Rush Cleveland Trio, Tree-O and Raldo and Friends.
La Calle food truck will be at the park, as well as craft vendors. Interested vendors still have time to sign up to sell their wares. Festival T-shirts, designed by Samantha Gipper, will be sold to raise funds for the festival.