Friday, June 28, 2019

Same Place, Different Name

You might think you’ve been to all the local summer festivals before, or at least to this one. But you would be mistaken. The Edgewater Street Fest is brand new and it’s being held Sunday.

The site — and the sights — will be familiar if you’ve attended the Clifton Arts Festival in the past. The Edgewater fest, like its predecessor, is taking place on Clifton Boulevard between West 115th and West 117th streets in Cleveland. 

The new fest will provide an opportunity to spotlight some of the changes Clifton has undergone in recent years, including the addition of several businesses. The fest will also have live music from four local bands and local artists selling their work. Aspiring artists can get some tips, too, through demonstrations and lessons.

Food and beverages, including beer and wine, will be for sale and family-friendly activities will be happening throughout the day. 

The free, one-day festival runs from noon to 7 p.m. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Historic Hike

Sometimes your timing is perfect, due solely to good luck. That was the case Sunday morning, when my friend Carmen and I took part in Take a Hike – Canal Basin Park. The weather could not have been better. It was warm, but not hot or humid. And for a real change of pace, it wasn’t raining.

Photo by Carmen Becker
Old Glory near the Center Street Swing Bridge
The hike, a guided tour that’s really more of a stroll, was part of Cleveland History Days, a celebration that began Friday and runs through Sunday, June 30. Our group met outside the Flat Iron Cafe in Cleveland’s Flats and included stops along and near the Cuyahoga River. The city had just wrapped up its commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the last fire on the river the day before.

We learned about the canals that people used in the 19th century to travel between Cleveland and other parts of Ohio. We also learned about plans for the Towpath Trail, sections of which have been constructed over the past several years. The final section, expected to be completed in 2020, will create a 101-mile towpath connecting Cleveland and New Philadelphia in Tuscarawas County.

Two historic figures joined us during the tour: a former mayor and the wife of a man who is the namesake of a well-known Lake Erie island. Locals can probably guess who our visitors were, but I don’t want to give too much away because both characters’ appearances were surprises.

In addition, we found out that exciting plans are in the works for a building on the Sherwin-Williams property that once was a railroad station. Again, I don’t want to reveal too much now.

The 90-minute tour was a nice blend of past and future with time to appreciate the river and surrounding areas as they are today. There are lots of photo opps on this hike.  

If you’re disappointed you missed it, I have good news. The Canal Basin Park hike is taking place again Sunday, June 30. Register at the link. Full disclosure: This tour and the others in the Take a Hike series are scheduled weekly between May and September. There was just something special about taking the tour during Cleveland History Days. 

All Take a Hike tours are free, but donations are accepted and appreciated. I don’t know whether this is always the case, but when we gave our guide our donations at the end of Sunday’s tour, he gave each of us a coupon for half-price appetizers at the Flat Iron Cafe. Several of us went to the Flat Iron immediately afterward. Carmen and I each got pierogies — a plate of four is an appetizer there —  to conclude our authentic Cleveland experience.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Only in Cleveland

What would you do if a river that caught fire made your hometown the butt of jokes, even 50 years after it last happened? Clevelanders are getting the last laugh.

Not only do we have a beer and a festival (among other things) named after the burning river, we are dedicating a long weekend to the 50th anniversary of the infamous fire.

This is the 1952 Cuyahoga River fire.
The 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River was no laughing matter. Nor were the fires that preceded it. Industries and individuals treated the river as a dumping ground for years before society became more environmentally conscious. For whatever reason, the 1969 fire – which wasn’t even as bad as some of the others — got national attention. Thus the jokes.

On the upside, that fire was one of the factors that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972.

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the last fire on the Cuyahoga. Activities commemorating it began Wednesday, but there are plenty of others happening through Sunday, including the aforementioned Burning River Fest today and tomorrow on Whiskey Island. Some will have you learning about the river, some will have you looking at art inspired by it and some will get you on the river. And many of the activities are free.

Fifty years ago, the river was too polluted to enjoy. Earlier this year, the Ohio EPA declared it safe to eat fish from it. So check out the list of anniversary events and raise a Burning River Pale Ale to the enduring Cuyahoga.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

History Lessons

NOTE: This post has been updated with a corrected time for the Wednesday and Saturday programs.

The Cleveland History Center is offering visitors something extra this summer: free talks and gallery tours to further explore the city’s past.

A historical highlight will be featured most Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. through Aug. 31. One exception is “Cleveland’s Crooked River,” being presented tomorrow and Friday, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the infamous Cuyahoga River fire on Saturday, June 22. (Come back to CLE on the Cheap on Friday for more on that.)
From Cleveland Memory Project

Other scheduled topics include Millionaires’ Row, Eliot Ness and Suffragists of the Western Reserve. Millionaires’ Row was presented last week, but there will be encore presentations Aug. 14 and 17.

Those who remember Euclid Beach Park might enjoy a talk and tour on Wednesday, July 17, and a full-day celebration on Saturday, July 20, of the amusement park that closed in 1969.

The summer talks and tours are free for visitors with regular admission and for Western Reserve Historical Society members.


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Sticking With Tradition

I’m posting a day early because a unique event happening this weekend begins this afternoon. It’s never too early to start the weekend, right?

The Duck Tape Festival in Avon is held the weekend of Father’s Day every year as a nod to dads’ penchant for fixing things with duct tape. The festival bears the name of Avon-based ShurTech Brands’ well-known product.

I don't know who came up with the idea of holding a festival to celebrate duct tape. But this year's is the 16th annual. So yes, the idea stuck.

The festival opens at 4 p.m today with free carnival rides until closing at 11 p.m. Admission and parking are free all weekend.

Highlights include music, dancing, craft activities (I’m thinking Duck Tape will be involved), food, a car show and fireworks. But the main event is Saturday morning’s parade featuring floats cleverly constructed with Duck Tape.

The video here gives you an idea of what to expect during this nontraditional tradition.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Doggo Drive-In

Most dogs love riding in the car. Some like watching movies. This Saturday night they can take it a step further by watching a movie in the car.

Bring Your Dog to the Drive-in Night is at the Aut-O-Rama Drive-In Theater in North Ridgeville. Dogs are admitted for $5 each with the proceeds benefiting Multiple Breed Rescue, a volunteer-run foster home network that works to find loving homes for displaced dogs.

Human tickets are regular prices: $10 for ages 12 and older, $5 for ages 4-11 and free for children 3 and under.

In addition to the movie, “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” the event will include raffle baskets and a 50/50 drawing, all of which will help the rescue. You don’t have to worry that your dog has already seen the movie. It just opened Friday.

The fun begins at 7 p.m. at 33395 Lorain Road. Check the house rules before you go, though. Not because of the dogs. Because of the humans.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Two Weeks’ Notice

It’s not what you think. I’m not quitting anything. I’m giving you two weeks’ notice about a series of events you shouldn’t miss.

The second annual Cleveland History Days kicks off Friday, June 21, with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Cleveland History Center in University Circle. The ceremony will be followed by a variety of activities showcasing the city over 10 days, most of them free.
Detroit Superior Bridge, circa 1920 (Cleveland Memory Project

You’re getting a heads-up because you need to register for just about all of the events. The offerings include walking and biking tours and one on the Cuyahoga River. Some tours will take you places you ordinarily can’t go, such as underneath the Detroit-Superior (Veterans Memorial) Bridge and the Superior Viaduct. Others will give you a different perspective on places you’ve probably visited many times, such as Public Square, the Gateway District and Playhouse Square.

While you’re visiting the sites, you can accumulate points in the Cleveland History Buff Contest. Prize packages will be announced at the opening ceremony June 21 and the three prize winners will be announced during the closing ceremony June 30 in Tremont’s Lincoln Park.

Each weekend of Cleveland History Days includes a festival. Burning River Fest is June 21-22 on Whiskey Island and Tri-C JazzFest is June 27-29 at Playhouse Square. Admission to Burning River Fest is $15 and all proceeds from ticket and beer sales benefit clean water efforts in Northeast Ohio. JazzFest includes free concerts featuring 17 acts outdoors and nine ticketed concerts inside the theaters.  

Look over the list and descriptions in the Cleveland History Days link and register ASAP. I’ve signed up for the Take a Hike tour of Canal Basin Park on June 23, Authors’ Night at Music Box Supper Club on June 24, a presentation about Millionaire’s Row on June 26 and the Take a Hike tour of Tremont on June 30.

The Take a Hike tours are really well done and a lot of fun. In years past, I have gone on the Warehouse District, Civic Center and University Circle tours and recommend all of them. (The 2019 Take a Hike tours will be offered through Sept. 15; however the Tremont tour is exclusive to Cleveland History Days.) I also walked through the underside of the Detroit-Superior Bridge about 20 years ago and really enjoyed it. Unlike my visit, the Cleveland History Days edition will include a guided tour. I’m tempted to go again.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Crossing Over

Main Street in 1915 (not when I was in college)
Greater Clevelanders are well aware of the East Side-West Side divide. We tend to stay on our own side of town. I’m no exception, although I silently praise myself when I do visit the East Side.

I don’t think either side is better than the other. Each has its own merits and I think we benefit by crossing the Cuyahoga River now and then. In recent months I’ve visited University Circle and Cleveland Heights twice each and, for the first time, the Waterloo neighborhood.

One East Side community I haven’t been to in years is Chagrin Falls. But that might change this weekend during Art by the Falls. Besides art for sale, the free two-day festival will offer live music, food trucks, art demonstrations and an opportunity for kids to be part of a community art project.

The setting alone is a work of art. I went there to take pictures for my black-and-white photography class portfolio when I was attending Kent State University. Even in black and white, the small-town scenery was picturesque.     

Art by the Falls will take place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Riverside Park. Off-street parking is available next to the park.