Tag Archives: urban iditarod

Embracing Winter: Brite Winter Fest and Cleveland's First Urban Iditarod

Looking to get outside and enjoy this Cleveland winter? The Brite Winter Festival returns this Saturday 2/18. (photo from britewintercleveland.com)

After the last week of snow, I think we are able to say that winter is finally here.  And just in time for two events that aim to celebrate Cleveland’s snowy season:

This Saturday from 5-10pm, Brite Winter Festival returns for its third year.  The event originally started as the creators’ proactive, grassroots approach to stave off the brain drain they were seeing in Cleveland among their fellow college graduates.

With Brite Winter, they wanted to give Clevelanders a chance to get outside and discover that our winters don’t just need to be tolerated – they can actually be a lot of fun.

For their third annual fest, they’re changing locations and bringing Brite Winter to Bridge Ave. and W.26th in Ohio City.

My favorite game from last year's Brite Winter Festival: Giant Skeeball!

The festival will feature art and games — and sometimes a combination of the two.

Artists from the Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art’s Community Arts Department, IngenuityFest and local companies like cyancdesign will take over the main festival grounds as well as some of Ohio City businesses to present their art installations.

One of my favorite games from last year – giant skee-ball – is back, along with other games like a Climbing Race Game, Light Fight and a Catapult Smashdown.

This year's Brite Winter moves to Ohio City. Pictured is last year's festival lighting up The Flats. (photo from britewintercleveland.com)

And for festival-goers’ listening pleasure, Brite Winter has eight venues and over 35 bands performing when I last counted.

Something that’s different this year: the festival will feature one outdoor stage and seven indoor venues like Bon Bon Cafe, Great Lakes Brewery and Joy Machines Bike Shop. So if you do need to take a break and warm up from the cold, you’ll have a lot of options for music.

The festival and all music performances are free and open to the public, though donations are always welcome. You can read my recap of last year’s Brite Winter here.

The Cleveland Urban Iditarod descends on Ohio City in March - part relay race/part street theatre to raise money for Harvest for Hunger.

In March, Ohio City will play host to another unique event when Cleveland’s Yo-Yo Syndicate demonstrates that being out in the cold can be enjoyable and help raise money for a local cause.

The Yo-Yo Syndicate, creators of IngenuityFest’s Doodle Bar as well as Cleveland’s branch of Dr. Sketchy, are helming the first-ever Cleveland Urban Iditarod on March 4th.

What is an urban iditarod?

While the real Iditarod is the famous long-distance race where a team of dogs tow a sled across Alaska’s frozen tundra, the Cleveland Urban Iditarod is almost the same thing. Except that instead of dogs, it’s people; instead of sleds, it’s shopping carts; and instead of Alaska, it’s Cleveland.

Have fun with your Urban Iditarod team -- dress yourselves and your cart up like this team from the Chicago Iditarod did. (photo from theyoyosyndicate.com)

Teams of 5 (4 to pull the cart, 1 ”musher” who’s behind steering) must fill their cart with 40 pounds of canned food and race it through the course. The carts can be decorated (it’s even encouraged as long as the decorations don’t violate the guidelines) and racers can wear the craziest costumes they can pull together. All of this will help raise food and money for the Cleveland Foodbank’s Harvest for Hunger.

Urban Iditarods have been held in places such as Portland, Boston, Cincinnati and Chicago (where over $18,000 was raised for their local food bank), but this is the first time Cleveland will be hosting one.   With themed teams and contests at each stop, the Iditarod is part relay race/part street theater and will bring Cleveland’s creative community to the Ohio City neighborhood.

The race starts at 11:30 a.m. and the entire route is about 5.5 miles with 20 minute stops at each local west side location. The Market Garden Brewery, who’s also planning the first Ohio City Ice Carving contest that day, will be hosting the Urban Iditarod after party.

If you register online by Feb. 24th, the team fee is only $45 (it goes up to $65 through March 2nd; $100 the day of). The cart deposit is $35, which each team will get back once they demonstrate the cart has been taken home with them after the race.

The "Epic Epicness" of an urban iditarod! The Chicago Iditarod (pictured here) helped raise over $18,000 for their local food bank. (photo from theyoyosyndicate.com)

Although there’s officially only a month left of winter, with Brite Winter and the Urban Iditarod there are a lot of opportunities left to get out and enjoy it.

What do you have planned for your end-of-winter festivities?