Fine Arts and Fest

Burning River Festival: Party On Environment, Party On

Hallie Witwer
Whiskey Island here in Cleveland, Ohio, was hoppin’ July 21st and 22nd, as it held the annual Burning River Festival. The Burning River Festival takes environmental awareness and turns it into a giant party that is fun for all, but especially those over the age of 21, as beers from The Great Lakes Brewing Company flow from a multitude of kegs throughout the entire weekend. I had a blast and have to say that there is just something about the taste of Christmas Ale on my tongue in July that is like no other. Oh yes, there was Christmas Ale, and plenty of it! It’s practically Christmas in July.
Patrons take in Burning River Festival 2012 (Witwer)
Over 25 bands took to three different stages during the weekend, and the ones that I was able to take in were amazing. Make sure to bring your dancing shoes if you attend the 2013 festival because everyone was moving and grooving in-time. I particularly enjoyed one band that I saw on the main stage called Bethesda. They had amazing energy, great musicianship, and a killer lead singer. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Florence and the Machine as I danced away the night to their music. Here’s a link to their website if you’re looking for some new jams to rock out to, I highly recommend them.

Also, don’t worry if you’re not a dancer or if you like softer tunes, because right around the corner from the main stage was the acoustic stage, where solo guitarists with fantastic folky sounds jammed for a sitting crowd with a lake view that could bring calm even to the most stressed out executive in Cleveland. As far as the music went, the festival covered all the bases, and there was something for everyone so come one, come all.

Aside from the music and beer (yes, I know sometimes we forget that there’s more than music and beer to events…and life) there was the continuous theme of improving our environment. I can’t think of a better cause to help support right on the shore of Lake Erie itself. Proceeds from the festival benefit the Burning River Foundation, which is a local non-profit organization which provides resources for a happy and healthy future for our waterways. Saturday night, former U.S. Senator George Voinovich made an appearance to personally accept the foundation’s inaugural Outstanding Environmental Leadership Award for all the work he’s done to protect the Great Lakes.

Other environmental fun the festival offered was having the major contributors to the festival build boats out of post-consumer recycled materials and race with them down the river. The Corporate Boat Float entries I saw looked great and I was more than impressed with the work that went into them! Here’s to putting the materials that often cause waterway problems to a much better use!
A “Boat Float” awaits launch. (Witwer)
In addition to the boat float, there were a multitude of booths featuring fresh local food, the Ohio Burn unit which put on a fire show, and, my personal favorite, the instrument petting zoo hosted by the Baldwin Wallace University OCMEA. At this booth festival goers could try any instrument they wanted, and there were tons to choose from. I got a mini-lesson in trombone and saxophone and my boyfriend got one for the violin. It was such a fun experience! Though I’ve just mentioned a handful, there were many other vendors and displays to take in. I know I’ll be back next year because I certainly couldn’t fit everything in this time, which is a great problem to have, I suppose. It’s well worth the $10 ticket, I assure you.
Festival goers take a moment to check out the acoustic stage and the scenery. (Witwer)
Burning River Festival is a great way to support a significant cause, dance away the evening to amazing music, and have a few (ok, many) beers in the process. It’s local, it’s the essence of summer, and it’s the perfect reason to get off the couch and take in some gorgeous scenery. Take it all in Ohioans, because these are what the glory days of summer are made of.
Beer Tokens (Witwer)