Toledo is a city that is something of a clean slate, welcoming new and different ideas, programs, businesses and art as it re-creates itself — or as we re-create it.
As a citizen conscious of my surroundings and concerned about our ecosystem, I have thought about the Great Lakes and our local watershed, often wondering what its future looks like. Industry and capitalism are threats to a thriving biology and ecology in the largest surface fresh water system in the world.
To bring more awareness to these issues that threaten the invaluable fresh water system in our community, and also to celebrate an amazing resource and geographical icon, I decided to bring together some of Toledo’s amazing businesses, organizations and musicians to create the Maumee Bay River Festival.
The one-day festival will be held Sept. 30 from 1-10 p.m. (after Race for the Cure). Tickets are $5 at the gate and include a free stainless steel water bottle, courtesy of Republic Services of Ohio, a sponsor of the festival.
The festival, above all, will demonstrate how connected we are to our local watershed and how most of what we do affects our rivers, streams and lake. We should understand how we have an “unlimited” amount of water in our sinks, toilets and showers, and also recognize that as a gift, not as something to take for granted. Environmental organizations, water recreation groups, businesses and others will have booths set up at the festival to share information.
Proceeds from the festival will benefit Lake Erie Waterkeeper, a 501(c)3, whose mission is “to preserve, protect and improve the watersheds, waters and fish of Lake Erie, the Great Lakes’ warmest, shallowest, most biologically productive lake, and to increase public awareness through collaboration, education and advocacy.”
Metroparks of Toledo Area, a sponsor of the festival and organizing participant, will have tours of the future Middlegrounds Metropark from 1-6 p.m. The Middlegrounds is located between Owens Corning and the Amtrak station along the river.
Another organizing participant and sponsor as well as festival host is the Maumee Bay Brewing Co., located in the Oliver House at 27 Broadway St. Oliver House will be opening its side yard for the festival, which can be moved inside in the event of rain. Not only does the Maumee Bay Brewing Co. use water from our local watershed in the brewing of its beers, it is located across the street from the Maumee River, so it wasn’t hard for general manager Neal Kovacik to jump on board. He also has a personal connection to the river as he is out fishing and kayaking on the Maumee every Sunday.
In honor of the festival, Maumee Bay Brewing Co. is brewing an exclusive festival brew, a bourbon porter called the Maumee Sturgeon Ale. This will be available on tap and released at the festival.
There will also be musical entertainment throughout the day. Toledo’s finest will be gracing the stage, including Russ Franzen, a writer of folk songs of the Great Lakes, Rachel Richardson, Patrick Lewandowski, The Estar Cohen Project, The Antivillains and Ramona Collins. You may not want to leave the stage — even to go inside the Oliver House to order food or walk down the street to the metropark or across the street to explore the native prairie pathway on Owens Corning’s campus.
Other off-site festival attractions include cruises down the Maumee on The Sandpiper and viewing of the U.S. Coast Guard Toledo Station boat. Both vessels will be docked Downtown on Water Street at the bottom of Jefferson Street. Tickets should be purchased for the one-hour Sandpiper cruises at the festival for only $2! These cruises are fun, informational and beautiful. Two cruises will be offered, at 3:30 and 5 p.m. Glass City Pedicabs will be on site to transport you from the festival to the boats.
The Maumee Bay River Festival is sponsored by Lake Erie Waterkeeper, Maumee Bay Brewing Co., Metroparks of Toledo Area, Republic Services of Ohio, TARTA, Lake Erie Western Alliance for Sustainability (LEWAS), Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District.
It is encouraging to see how many people are already doing their part to create and maintain a healthy ecosystem and watershed. Come to the Maumee Bay River Festival to meet with like-minded individuals and celebrate such a powerful part of our community. The Maumee River and Lake Erie have been here long before the city of Toledo ever existed and will live on as residents of this earth long after, and it is up to us to honor a wiser and greater part of ourselves.
For more information visit www.maumeebayriverfestival.org and on Facebook.
Tags: Maumee Bay Brewing Co., Maumee Bay River Festival, Middlegrounds, Oliver House, Stacy Jurich, Wandering Roots