Burning River Fest 2017
Party with purpose at this environmentally-friendly fest
By Kelsey O'Donnell
Some people mock Cleveland because our river caught on fire**. But we see it as an opportunity to educate and empower our community and guests. Oh, and as an excuse for a party. The Burning River Fest is an end-of-summer bash that celebrates Cleveland’s commitment to drawing awareness to the environmental issues affecting Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River.
Great Lakes Brewing Company, a totally eco-friendly Cleveland brewery, is the presenter of the event. Proceeds from all ticket sales benefit the Burning River Foundation's efforts to restore the city's waterfront assets. The Burning River Foundation was created to provide grants and resources for the sustainable future of Cleveland's waterways. As part of their efforts, they hold the Burning River Fest each year to note the day the Cuyahoga River caught on fire and the eco-consciousness that has resulted.
The festival is in its 16th year and this year will be held on Aug. 18 and 19 at the historic Coast Guard Station on Whiskey Island. It promises to be a ton of fun with indie bands, local beer, unique activities and sustainable food.
And this is Cleveland, so you know we don't mess around when it comes to food, beer and music. As "The Birthplace of Rock and Roll," we know how to put on a show.
This year, Burning River Fest will serve up two stages for live music: the Great Lakes Stage and the Rock Hall Stage. Seventeen local and regional bands will perform a variety of genres: blues and soul, folk, rock reggae and Americana. The festival headliners are Robert DeLong and Wesley Bright & the Honeytones. Check out the full concert lineup here.
And since we are all about doing things our own way here in Cleveland, be sure to check out the Silent Disco on Friday and Saturday night. Music is transmitted through personal headphones, so from the outside it looks like a lot of people dancing to nothing. It's hysterical, and good clean fun.
If music isn't your thing, but eating and drinking are, then Burning River Fest has got you covered, too. Great Lakes Brewing Company will be serving up five different beers in corn cups. Yep, cups made out of corn. The cups are 100% compostable, keeping with the festival's theme of sustainability. And nothing pairs better with a locally sourced brew than Cleveland grub. Slyman's, Barrio, Ohio City Pasta and Mitchell's Ice Cream are all on the list of vendors that'll be dishing out local favorites at the festival.
Keeping with the theme of sustainability, ditch your car and ride your bike to Whiskey Island and park in the safe and secure bike valet. Or, carpool with your friends and park free at Edgewater Park, then take a free shuttle bus to Whiskey Island.
For more information, check out the Burning River Fest website here. Or follow along on social media with the hashtag #BRF2017.
**Wait, the river caught on fire? What's that all about?
Back in the ‘60s, Cleveland's waterways suffered from the city's manufacturing past. The Cuyahoga River, specifically, was overcome with intense pollution and, frankly, was in bad shape.
Like many polluted waterways around the country at the time, the oil slicked debris and industrial waste on these rivers often caught fire when met with flame.
In 1969, Cleveland's Cuyahoga River experienced one such fire. One thing led to another and a jarring image of the Cuyahoga River on fire made its way to the cover of Time magazine.
Cleveland's mayor at the time, who also was the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city, Carl Stokes, made a commitment to clean up Cleveland's waterways. It is believed that all the attention on Cleveland, Mayor Stokes and the Cuyahoga River was the reason the 1972 Clean Water Act came to be, as well as how the Environmental Protection Agency was created.
Today, the Cuyahoga River serves as an example of how a city can turn around the health of major waterway. The working river is now a popular spot for boating, watersports, rowing and other pastimes for water enthusiasts.