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We all love a really good music and beer festival. I mean, what's not to like? But what makes Burning River Fest, held August 26-27 at the historic Coast Guard Station at Whiskey Island from 6-11 p.m., 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 Fest each year to note the day the Cuyahoga River caught on fire* and the eco-consciousness that has resulted.
This year is the festival's 15th, and it promises to be a ton of fun with indie bands, local beer, unique activities 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's efforts to restore the city's waterfront assets.
Why shouldn't you miss this awesome event? Let's count down the top 5 reasons.
5. Eco consciousness is cool.
Just about every element of the fest is eco-friendly. You'll find vendors who are eager to educate on the benefits of recycling and composting, as well as trained face painters and body artists who use hypoallergenic cosmetics to get you looking fancy.
For those looking to take it a step further, ditch the 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.
4. Not Your Ordinary Festival Food
If questionably-sourced 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.
Check out the full list of food vendors here.
Get your food truck fix and sample hand-made gourmet pierogi from The Pierogi Lady, indulge in wood fire pizza using all local ingredients from Sauced, or dive into pastas, raviolis, and artisanal sauces all made from scratch from Ohio City Pasta.
For major foodies, make sure to stop by the Chef Demos to see cooking demonstrations, with chefs sharing "surprisingly edible" ingredients in delicious samplings. Featured chefs include Anna Harouvis from Anna in the Raw, Katie Simmons from Great Lakes Brewing Company, and Daniel Garcia from El Carnicero.
3. You're helping to save a historical Cleveland landmark
Each year, the Burning River Fest proceeds go to the Burning River Foundation, which uses the funds for causes related to Cleveland's waterfront resources. This year, the Foundation will be allocating the proceeds to the historic Coast Guard Station - the very building that takes center stage at the Burning River Fest.
Get an up-close and personal look at how you are directly impacting important restoration efforts in Cleveland by checking out the Chef Demos that will be taking place inside the Coast Guard Station. This is the only event that takes place at the historical landmark, which was built in 1940 and was known as the "most beautiful" in the nation at its opening.
2. Two Nights, Two Stages, 17 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").
With a gorgeous backdrop, Burning River Fest will serve up two stages for live 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.
The 17 local and regional bands will perform a variety of genres: blues and soul, folk, rock reggae and Americana. Don't be shy - we encourage dancing and singing along! Headliners include Moon Taxi and Seafair.
Check out the music schedule for more detail.
1. Good beer = A Good Time
If there's one thing locals know, it's that nothing says "Cleveland" quite like a tall pint of Great Lakes Brewing Company's beer. Whether it's the Great Lakes Oktoberfest or the fest's namesake Burning River Pale Ale, the beer will be flowing and you can wash down your favorite food truck fixings with a brew from GLBC.
See the 5 brews that will be featured at the fest here.
Get Started Planning
For more information on the Burning River Fest, visit their website, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.
*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 water enthusiasts.
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