Burning River Festival

June 24, 2014
Burning River Festival

5 Reasons To Make It To The 2014 Burning River Fest, Cleveland Music Festival With Eco-Friendly Twist

We all love a really good music and beer festival. I mean, who doesn't?

But what makes Burning River Festival, held July 25-26 at Wendy Park in Whiskey Island, that much more special is its commitment to drawing awareness to the environmental issues affecting Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River.

An organization known as 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 Festival each year to note the day the Cuyahoga River caught on fire* and the eco-consciousness that has resulted.

Today, however, the event has grown into something incredible - packed with indie bands, local beer and sustainable food.

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.

Why shouldn't you miss this awesome event?

5. Eco Consciousness Galore

Just about every element of the festival is eco-friendly. You'll find vendors who sell home furnishings built of reclaimed wood, jewelry made from recycled items, natural soaps, home goods created from recycled t-shirts and other unique vendors and artists selling eco-friendly wares.

There's even a company that sells a first-of-its-kind mobile device charger that generates energy from activities like walking, running and biking.

For those looking to take it a step further, ride your bike to Whiskey Island and park in the safe and secure Ohio City Bike Co-Op bike corral. On top of that, bicyclists receive a discounted $8 day-of-admission ticket price!

4.  Not Your Ordinary Festival Food

If questionably sourced festival food isn't exactly what you see as a solid meal, we think you'll be impressed with Burning River Fest. Event organizers have taken its food offerings to the next level by permitting only those food vendors who have a commitment to organic sourcing and sustainability.

Rest assured, that doesn't mean you'll only be offered a selection of kale chips and tofu muffins.

Why not try some beer-infused donuts from Brewnuts? Or, a summertime pasta dish from West Side Market vendor Ohio City Pasta? Or, if you choose to grab a bite at the Manna Food Truck (we hope they serve their eggplant fries), a portion of the proceeds will be used to help feed those less fortunate.

3. Unique Event Activities

When we say "unique," we're referring to the fire-eating demonstrations, roaming entertainers and the percussion ensemble that only uses recyclable items as instruments.

That also includes the Corporate Boat Float. Every night at 7:20pm, corporate businesses and organizations compete in races on boats comprised entirely of plastic waste. While the contraptions are innovative and the races hilarious, the ultimate goal is to raise awareness of plastic pollution.

2. Two Nights, Three Stages, 28 Bands

Well, it wouldn't be a music festival without the music. And, good thing you're in Cleveland (aka "The Birthplace of Rock and Roll").

Thanks to the unique location of the festival, Burning River Festival is able to offer three stages for music. (1) There's the Station Stage, which is the largest and sits at the Coast Guard Station along Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. (2) Then, there's the Acoustic Stage nearby where you can enjoy some great Lake Erie breezes. (3) And, there's the Meadows Stage where you can kick off your shoes and dance in the grass.

The 28 local and regional bands will perform a pretty insane variety of genres: blues and soul, folk, rock and bluegrass, country, jazz, reggae and zydeco. 

Check out the music schedule for more detail.

1. Great Lakes Christmas Ale Is On Tap!

If there's one thing locals know, it's that nothing says "Cleveland" quite like a tall pint of Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas Ale.

Much to the chagrin of Clevelanders, this holiday ale, brewed with honey and spiced with cinnamon and ginger, was traditionally only available during the holidays. But, thankfully Great Lakes Brewing Company decided that the Burning River Fest (held on/around "Christmas in July" - July 25) would be the perfect opportunity to brew a special batch. [NOTE: They'll serve up many of their other award-winning beers there, as well.]

We're not going to sugar coat it for you, folks. Offering GLBC Christmas Ale in July is seriously like Christmas morning. But remember to drink responsibly, as this local brew can be a tad on the strong side.

Get Started Planning

For more information on the Burning River Festival, visit their website, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

*Wait, the river caught on fire? What's that all about?

Back in the sixties, 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 water enthusiasts.

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