Living Lands & Waters, an award-winning non-profit organization founded in 1997 by Chad Pregracke in East Moline, is celebrating 25 years this month. To commemorate the milestone, they will host the 2022 Barge Party on Thursday, June 16 at Schwiebert Riverfront Park in Rock Island.

The event will showcase the Living Lands & Waters barge, which holds the “floating classroom” and the crew house and kitchen. A highlight of the event will be the art auction featuring environmentally-themed artwork made from natural, repurposed, or recycled materials. Established in 2003, with the help of local artist Heidi Sallows, the goal of the art auction is to celebrate art made from natural materials while raising operating funds for LL&W.

Crews with Living Lands and Waters have removed over 12.7 million pounds of garbage from America’s rivers since 1998.

Headlining the event is Aaron Kamm & The One Drops from St. Louis. With a sound that merges reggae, Mississippi River blues, and a whole lot more, they’re the perfect addition to this river celebration, according to a Friday release from LL&W. At the party, guests also will enjoy a fish fry and shrimp boil, cash bar, wine pull, and silent auction.

The 2022 Barge Party will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on June 16. Tickets for the event are sold individually for $75 or in tables of 8 for $600. More information and tickets are available at bargeparty.org.

Formerly an annual event, the crew hasn’t been able to host a Barge Party since 2016 due to flood relief cleanups, COVID, and their rigorous travel schedule throughout the Mississippi River Watershed.

For the last 25 years, the LL&W crew has traveled on the barge to 25 rivers in 21 states, hosting thousands of waterfront cleanups. With the assistance of over 120,000 volunteers, LL&W has removed 12.7 million pounds of garbage from America’s rivers. In addition, the team has planted 1.8 million native hardwood trees throughout the Plains, Midwest, East, and Southeast U.S.

Chad Pregracke, head and founder of Living Lands and Waters.

Pregracke is eager to mark the anniversary with the QC community.

“It has been an amazing 25 years of progress, and our accumulated results speak to those successes,” he said in the release. “It just goes to show what can happen when people work together for a great cause. I cannot be more thankful for the support we have received and look forward to the next 25 years.”

Living Lands & Waters is still accepting donations for the art auction. The organization is looking for environmentally themed artwork made from natural, repurposed or recycled materials, but all donations and media are appreciated. Contact Atlanta Dawn at 309-207-5630 or atlantadawnart@gmail.com to submit art.