Crooked River Commute rolls on -- to Burning River Fest; The Plain Dealer; August 27, 2016
By James Ewinger, The Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The third Crooked River Commute and the Burning River Fest have roughly the same goal, but achieved by different means.
The Commute on Saturday finished carrying around 10 kayakers from Kent to Cleveland for the two-day Burning River Fest, which ends Sunday night.
The water-borne travelers -- most associated with Kent State University at one time or another -- relied on muscle power to cover the 50-mile route. During all of that, they became intimately acquainted with just how crooked the Cuyahoga gets.
"After the first commute, I couldn't lift my arms above my shoulders," said David Jurca, leader of the expedition.
Paddling was not the only exertion. They had to port their kayaks more than once, in the last case on Saturday, to avoid the Brecksville Dam by the Route 82 bridge.
A rented truck moved the watercraft and the rest of their gear from the Boston Store where they camped Friday night, but the commuters had to hand-carry the kayaks the final distance over sometime rough terrain and down a steep embankment.
The shared purpose of the trip and the festival is to promote the value, the utility and the wonder of the region's freshwater resources -– most notably the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie.
The Station Road Trailhead in Brecksville showcased a range of activities and what amounted to an impromptu transportation hub.
Bicyclists took advantage of the trail system, as did assorted walkers and runners, while assorted anglers fished from the riverbank.
The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad provided a rolling backdrop as it tooted and roared southward.
And one young couple rehearsed their upcoming wedding.
The only things missing were kites, horses and powered hang gliders. But all of those were certainly somewhere in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cleveland Metroparks and Summit Metro Parks.
The final goal was for the kayakers to arrive at the Cleveland Metroparks' Merwin's Warf restaurant in Cleveland, then to paddle on to the old Coast Guard Station on Whiskey Island for Burning River Fest, which continues Sunday night.
Burning River Fest, a festival hosted by Great Lakes Brewing Co., features music, food and drinks, and raises money for the Cleveland Coast Guard Station. It runs 6-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $15. More at burningriverfest.org.