Hey friends! I’ve decided to make a little series here on Our Wild Wanderers called “Our Wild Day”, where I’ll be showing you exactly what some of our own adventures look like! These will always be titled “Our Wild Day at ______.” I hope it gives you some insight into what it’s like to go to some of these places or events if you’ve never been and don’t have a clue what to expect!
So, for our first of the series, we have Our Wild Day at Missouri Conservation’s Day on the River. The MO Department of Conservation puts on this event annually in September. It’s held along the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau’s riverfront.
We’ve been going to this event for years. It’s such a fun, free little event for the kids (and adults!) It’s included in our list of fun things to do around Cape Girardeau this fall.
So first things first- parking. We usually park in the big downtown parking lot in front of Hutson’s Furniture, and then it’s a short walk to the gate in the flood wall.
But as you can see in the photo below, there’s parking spots all along the flood wall. You can also find a spot on any of the streets, or at the other parking area (which has a public restroom) north of where we parked. This lot will be to the left of you when you drive down Broadway toward the river.
This isn’t a huge event, so getting a close parking spot is generally not a problem at all.
This year, the kids were actually really interested in the murals along the wall!
When you get through the flood wall gates, you’ll see all the tents set up right there with activities. The first thing I noticed this year was that there wasn’t much of a line for the boat rides! In my opinion, the free boat ride down the Mississippi is the best part of this event!
To get on the boat, all you have to do is jump in line! No tickets, no need to pay! A conservationist will fit you with a life jacket, and help you into a boat. During the short boat ride, you will learn about the river and the different animal species that utilize it.
My son was pretty nervous at first because he’s been taught how dangerous the “Mighty Mississippi” can be, but he ended up loving the (totally safe) ride! The conservationists on our ride talked about the dangers and how it’s actually healthy and good to have a little fear! They also talked a little about how to navigate and read the river.
After we got off the boat, having been to Missouri Conservation Day on the River before, the kids knew immediately that they were going straight for the fish pools. They have a couple troughs set up filled with common carp, buffalo carp, gar, and a few species of catfish. The kids are allowed to grab a big net and catch (and release back into the trough) as many as they want!
Because there wasn’t too much of a crowd, my kids even got to hold some of the fish they caught!
One of the years we came, we happened to still be there when they were packing up, and my son got to help carry the fish back to the river and let them go!
My daughter wasn’t quite as into the netting of fish, but right next to that, they had a tub of turtles! She probably picked up every single one at least three times and told them how cute they were!
I had to practically pull them away from these activities! Next, we moved on to the face painting tent. The Puxico Art Club was doing the face painting and taking donations. They were so great, saying they could do anything the kids asked for.
After that, they saw a fishing game, where the goal was to hook and reel in rubber fish. They had a pretty good time doing that too!
A few other activities were there as well. Little kids could pick up (fake) crawfish, turtles, and fish out of a plastic baby pool. My daughter also got to make a bald eagle headband out of paper.
There was also a small tank with a live American bullfrog (the kids couldn’t believe how huge it was!), and another tank with American eels. This tent also had snapping turtle shells and skulls, and a few taxidermy animals like a beaver and a muskrat.
Just to put the icing on the cake, a bald eagle flew overhead while we were out there! Overall, it was a super fun day! Every single Conservationist working at this event was so friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be there. The kids truly love coming to this event each year.
So, if Cape Girardeau is a local town to you, or you just find yourself in town during this event, we would totally encourage you to check it out!
We hope you enjoyed reading about “Our Wild Day” at Missouri Conservation’s Day on the River!