Sat 5/26 @ 8AM-1PM
We’ve all heard the adage “If it’s yellow, leave it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” That’s the sentiment shared by local nonprofit Drink Local Drink Tap. The Cleveland-based organization inspires individuals to recognize and solve water issues through creative education and events, as well as provide safe water access to people in need.
A key part of its mission to create awareness via events such as its annual 4 Miles 4 Water four-mile walk and one-mile run taking place Sat 5/26 from Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. Runners this year will receive a race timing chip, 4 Miles 4 Water stainless steel water bottle, Pic-2-Go professional race photos and even a complimentary post-race beer (age 21 and older).
Also taking place simultaneously is the All Things Water Festival, which includes water education stations, food trucks, beer, wine, cocktails and games for all ages and entertainment. There’s a suggested $10 donation for all non-registered runners/walkers.
CoolCleveland talked to Drink Local Drink Tap executive director and founder Erin Huber Rosen about the annual affair.
CoolCleveland: So 4 Miles 4 Water returns yet again. What’s new for this year’s run and walk?
Erin Huber Rosen: We’ve invested a lot more in the runner experience. We’re really hoping to get more runners down there. We have had a really good turnout the last couple of years, but I feel like we hit a plateau with the people who would come down without timing chips. So as we kept growing, we decided to invest in those. Also, everybody gets a free stainless steel water bottle. I think you can ask any runner, our prizes are better than any run event in Cleveland. We have all kinds of gift cards and grand prizes and stuff for our people who place first and second place per age group in the race.
CC: Something else new is the timing of the event.
EHR: Last year, which was our first at Nautica, it was freezing rain. The weather was so bad, but we still had 300 people come out. I was very surprised. So this year we’re having it later in the month. Being at Nautica is not new, but it will be new for a lot of people because the attendance was very low last year.
CC: How successful has the event been over the years?
EHR: We’ve raised over $300,000 towards our work in clean water. Thousands of people have come out. It’s really been successful. It’s really a huge reason for the growth of our organization. Also, being at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica is very important. Having a good event venue partner is critical. We saved $12,000 going there, not having to rent tents and they were letting us keep proceeds from the bar.
CC: Tell us about the All Things Water Festival.
EHR: It’s basically interactive games and exhibitors that help people learn about different issues or solutions related to water. So we’ll have the Sewer District doing something and a water group doing something else. We’ll have an aquaponics farm coming to teach people and show them an interactive exhibit about how aquaponics farming works. If people go to enough of the exhibits, they can enter to win a few grand prizes we have. It’s called our Passport to Education game.
CC: What else do you have planned for the All Things Water Festival?
EHR: We have a couple of fun and funny things happening. We have the Guinness World Records- breaking guy named Dr. U R Awesome, who has the world record for the largest bubble. We have Sandy the Shark from the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. We’re launching our own Hydro Hero mascot. We created some of our own games over the years. We’ve learned that not all of these exhibitors bring the type of interactive stuff that we’re kind of looking for at this event. So, for example, we’ve created our own poop and pee cornhole boards. Just fun stuff like that.
CC: OK, hold on one second. Did you say poop and pee?
EHR: (laughs) Yeah, we work in water and sanitation. So the second you say poop, everybody stops and smiles and laughs. It doesn’t matter how old you are.
CC: What type of attendance are you expecting this year?
EH: We are expecting 500 people registered for the race and walk, and 1,000 total for the festival because it’s free. You can just walk in and have a beer or go to a food truck, play games.
CC: What do you hope people take away from All Things Water Festival?
EHR: This event allows us to reach the broader public and accidentally teach people things about water. We really want to make learning about water fun or accidental, because no one likes being preached at. So this is our fun way of talking about water with people while they’re having a drink or food or they’re out with their families. It doesn’t feel like you’re being educated about something, but you are. Everything you see and touch at the festival you’re learning something.
CC: Finally, what’s the overall mission behind Drink Local Drink Tap?
EHR: We’re very lucky living by 20 percent of the entire world’s fresh surface water. I think we flush perfectly good drinking water down the toilet every day and don’t think about it. Meanwhile, people walk four miles on average in the world to collect swamp water for their families. So we have to really count our blessings and take care of what we have. We’re very lucky to have our Great Lakes.