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Riverfront Cleanup for Beer Fest Yields Wealth of Trash -- and One Possible Gem

After daylong river bank sweep, volunteers find what they think is an old flag pole from Electric Park.

A 20-foot farm auger, a rusty broiler, a gazillion 55-gallon barrels, corroded water heaters, pipes, bags and bags of trash -- and a pole that may have secured a flag waving over long-gone Electric Park.

That’s what volunteers found when they did a sweep of the DuPage River bank on a muggy morning in early July.

It made Steve Caton froth with fury.

Co-founder of the and co-owner of , Caton remembers playing in the park before it was a park, back when the area was home to the village waste treatment center. 

He reminisces about pedaling his bike down the riverbank trail, playing "pioneer" with boyhood friends in a little patch of forest, snooping around the old ballroom that blew down in the 1990 Plainfield tornado, leaving a circle of naked concrete where Plainfield parents once waltzed and kids later roller-skated.

“People were using this place as a dump,” Caton said.

Why the cleanup? The 17 workers turned out to set the stage for the first Midwest Brewers Fest on Aug. 27 at Riverfront Park, located where Electric Park once stood in the early 1900s.

Caton and Dale Lewis, fest co-founder and owner of , tapped the idea to showcase craft beers while raising money for the . The nonprofit group's goal is to restore the park, which is just off downtown and east of Plainfield Village Hall.

For five hours the volunteers toiled in the sun, combing a mile of
shoreline with black trash bags, trucks and heavy equipment. Brian Bart, with of Plainfield, contributed a construction winch to drag discarded farm machinery out of the thicket. Someone brought a torch to cut apart massive shards of pipe and metal.

Teams infiltrated the woods, toting out barrels, broilers
and decaying appliances.

Another crew waded through the shallow water, skimming wrappers and cans and bottles and cups from the brink. They righted the flag pole and plan to ask local history buffs to authenticate its origin. The troops took up a collection to rent industrial trash bins.

Those who participated in the cleanup are among about 95 volunteers who have been working on the brew fest for several months, Caton said.

“We wanted to make a safe and attractive place to entertain
our guests and a safe place for kids to play,” he said.

If all 4,000 fest tickets are sold, they'll raise about $40,000 for the riverfront project, which requires about $2 million for the first phase. Beyond that, however, it’s also a way to introduce people to the charm and potential of the area.

“We’re not here just to drink beer,” Caton said. “We’re here
to make the park come back to life.”

Craft beer festivals draw people who are more interested in sampling new brands than drinking too much and getting rowdy, he said. Still, the fest is offering a $10 “designated driver ticket” that entitles the bearer to a bottomless cup of soda.

Goose Island Brew Pub of Chicago and 95.9 The River radio station
recently signed on as sponsors, Caton said. Five-Rabbit Beer of Chicago, Lagunitas Brewing Company of California and New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colo., are among the brewers who will be offering beers to sample.

Beer fans can check the www.midwestbrewfest.com to watch for new microbrews signing on daily and to buy tickets.

Admission to one-day event, from noon to 8 p.m., is $40
in advance and $50 on the day of the fest. The price of admission buys 25 tickets for 2-ounce “pours” of 150 types of beer provided by 50 craft brewers and five tickets for home-brew samples. Additional beer tickets will cost 10 for $20.

Organizers urge people to buy tickets in advance so vendors
are better able to plan for supplies, Caton said.

Plainfield Resident July 28, 2011 at 10:58 PM
Eric, If you have any additional ideas please join our group. We are always looking for new ways to raise money.
josh kabruski July 28, 2011 at 11:14 PM
Could we get some more people on this site bashing a couple guys trying to clean up a park or would you idiots rather we do it the republican way and take the money from the school system and give these two business owners tax breaks.
Cindy B July 28, 2011 at 11:50 PM
Lets please not add politics to the discussion. That has the potential to completely derail the original subject.
Thomas Hiestand July 28, 2011 at 11:53 PM
Thanks Steve, Dale and all the volunteers for all your hard work in bringing an idea to reality. I look forward to the event and to one day enjoying the park on the river! Eric you said: "I was simply stating that I don't think those involved in planning/running the event are being 100% honest" It's Obvious that you don't know Dale or Steve or any other of the volunteers putting this event together. The countless hours they have spent to just let Plainfield allow them to bring this one day event to the river front is staggering. It's refreshing that two business owners (competitors) can come together and try and do something about a problem as apposed to sitting on the sidelines critiquing. Calling someone dishonest without the facts shows me the type of person you are. You have my pity. Get involved!
Jason July 29, 2011 at 12:05 AM
Here's the Deal -- This beer fest is over priced just like the beer in their establishments. They don't have the Plainfield River Front Project in mind, cause if they did at least 1/2 of profit would go to them just like any other fundraiser. Now if the Plainfield community wants to raise money and make this River Front Project a reality, we need to get the Mayor and trustees to get something other than mom and pop shop down here. Get a Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Gino's East etc.... get the picture....generate more tax dollars. Plainfield cuts education and everyone is worried about this River Front Project. Priority people - our youth is our future!
Cindy B July 29, 2011 at 12:33 AM
Jason why would any of those businesses want to come to downtown Plainfield? This event & the cleanup that's taking place will attract people to Plainfield who have never had a reason or desire to come here. I dine, shop, & meet friends in Naperville, Oak Brook or Bolingbrook. People aren't clamoring to travel to Plainfield. If you want to generate revenue attracting people from other towns to dine & shop is a very smart idea. The craft beer in their establishments is not over priced. Venture downtown to Beer bistro if you'd like to see overpriced beer. Frankly before those two places opened there was not a decent restaurant/ bar in Plainfield. Craft beer is like gourmet food. You can't compare Miller light and McDonald's to it. Basically we have a bunch of people who aren't doing anything to better the community complaining that someone took the initiative to try to attract people & businesses to invest in our town.
Junior July 29, 2011 at 12:41 AM
Steve/Dale, Full financial disclosure would alleviate much of the concern. I look forward to reviewing report filed as a Not-for-Profit organization.
Cindy B July 29, 2011 at 12:50 AM
I still don't understand * the concern* other than you all want cheaper beer. Some people just need to find something to complain about. Complaining is much easier than actually doing something.
Mike July 29, 2011 at 12:59 AM
Steve, Dale and all the other volunteers - Great job doing something selfless for your community. Now you, Eric...First off, I do know that Goose Island has a fantastic line of Craft Sodas...and I think $10 is a great price for entry into a festival and all I can drink soda (where else do you get a deal like that at ANY outdoor fest?) Secondly, even if Dale and Steve were to profit off of this...why shouldn't they? It's their time, effort and reputation on the line...They take the risk, they should get the reward, that is the basis of our free-market society. Did you read your economics book, or just eat the pages? What is your involvment in this process? Are you contributing in any way or are you merely standing on the sidelines complaining that things aren't being done correctly? Finally, the group is hoping to raise $40,000 dollars for this riverfront project...even at 25% of the proceeds that's a pretty good chunk of change. Will you be writing a check for this amount? No? Then why don't you thank the team for their effort, apologize for being a jerk, and go hate on something else. Thanks!
Jason Thalman July 29, 2011 at 02:59 AM
Wow, I have to say that I am shocked and surprised by the negative responses. I am a member of the committee and I don't even live in Plainfield. That being said, I saw this as a great opportunity to volunteer and participate in an event that would benefit the Plainfield community and the surrounding areas by helping support a cause that I believe benefits everyone. I have personally devoted countless hours trying to make this event happen with ZERO benefit to me personally. Dale and Steve's only interest is in doing what benefits the community and NOT themselves. I can't think of two more selfless people whose only interest is bettering their community. It's sad that more communities don't have people like Dale & Steve to support the growth and development of their towns. Having personally attend almost every meeting since the inception of this idea, I for one can tell you that personal profit has absolutely nothing to do with this event. It is about raising money for the Riverfront Foundation through the growing interest in the Craft Beer industry. Any other assumptions about this event are 100% invalid.
Cheesecake Guy July 29, 2011 at 03:59 AM
I'm don't live in plainfield, but I am a small business owner and do sell my products in plainfield. When was the last time you heard a few business owners and alot of volunteers take time to help clean their community? I applaud Steve and Dale for their efforts. The beer event wiLl bring people to Plainfield that never ventured there. We all know that when people come they spend. They see this awesome little downtown area and decide to shop. Shopping bring revenue and tax dollars for the community. Did anyone think about the diesel Fuel that Bart homes donated for the cleanup? Using the machinery to get all the big stuff out of the river bank cost big money! I don't see Bart homes asking for a handout. They are just happy to help their community. Field of Dreams.."If you build it,they will come"! The brewers fest is just the tip of the iceberg to create a vibe to get out-of-towners into the community! The Farmers market does the same thing. Who cares about prices or who gets what. Its all about community and putting Plainfield on the map for something other than "that's the place where the Tornado hit" GOOD JOB STEVE,DALE and Volunteers!!
Kristin July 29, 2011 at 05:44 PM
Clean Up. Thank all of you for cleaning up the area, for years I have observed people leaving everything from grass clippings to appliances to areas of the river and empty lots. I personally get to clean up after litter bugs in my own yard weekly! Please stop the trash dumping! Fest. Fests/Ball Games/Concerts are expensive if you plan to eat/drink there we all know this. But to have a Fest that is helping clean up and bring in potential business and raise funds to better our community I think that is worth the price of admission! Craft Beer. Craft Beer is not cheap as most know. This is an opportunity for people to try new beers and support craft breweries. The goal here is not to get hammered drunk. If you want that might I suggest coming to the Fest enjoy a sampling of tasty brews then swing by T-Birds (to continue the support of local business owners) or Binnys, Jewel pick up some of the cheaper stuff and drink in the privacy of your own home. Plainfield is a wonderful place to live...it is still feels like a small town for most of us. Lets continue to make it grow and trive!
Jeff L Estoll July 29, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Here are the facts: 1.)"They don't have the Plainfield River Front Project in mind, cause if they did at least 1/2 of profit would go to them just like any other fundraiser." Where did you get that information? Lets take a look at the word profit. After they pay for all of the bands, shirts, glasses, ect. , lets call this the expenditures, the money left over is defined as profit. All profits are going back to the Riverfront Project. 2.)"we need to get the Mayor and trustees to get something other than mom and pop shop down here. Get a Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Gino's East etc.... get the picture....generate more tax dollars." This is the second most absurd thing I have heard so far. Where do the tax dollars of the companies you speak of go to????? I'll answer that for you...it's not the local economy. The majority of the tax dollars goes to the state in which they are headquartered in. I can go on for hours about this subject but will leave it with a simple fact that small companies are what drives the local economy. 3.)"Plainfield cuts education and everyone is worried about this River Front Project. Priority people - our youth is our future!" Now this one ties into point number two. We will get to that in a second. Do you know why Plainfield cut some school funding? If you did two seconds of research you will find out that Illinois has not paid their school districts. So how can we compensate this? By driving the local economy. See number 2.) above.
Jeff L Estoll July 29, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Laura did not remove my comments...I did. As I stated in the comments that they would be removed at a certain time because this was suppose to be an uplifting article. The only reason I responded to Eric is because he called the organizers of this a fraud and dishonest. I can see that you have no problem with name calling because you call everyone that has facts to back them up an idiot. The idiots are the ones who argue with no facts to back them up. For instance you think Laura made me take down my post. Oh and i just destroyed Jason with facts on his post. You can not argue using opinions, you have to use facts....something I have not heard from you or the others.
Steve Caton July 29, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Hi Junior, We have no problem with full disclosure. The Village of Plainfield has been completely apprised of our intentions, and meet with us weekly to set this up right. Our budget and expenditures are open book to the Village, and Midwest Brewers Fest Inc is a non- for profit IL corporation.
Rex Slagel July 29, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Jeff, That's great! I look forward to meting you and your wife.
Jeff L Estoll July 29, 2011 at 09:02 PM
"Did you read your economics book, or just eat the pages?" I am stealing this one.
Steven Lassard July 29, 2011 at 09:09 PM
Rumor is that Oswego is doing a Craft Beer Fest and they are charging $10 a head. Which gives you 10 sampling tickets. Not sure how much a sampling ticket buys you, but that sounds like a great deal!
Steven Lassard July 29, 2011 at 09:12 PM
I think its great that people actually care enough to want to make our town a cleaner place. Who cares what they are charging for the event. If you dont want to pay that much, then dont go. It is a bit pricey. But, supposedly Oswego is having a Craft Beer Fest in Septemeber that is only $10 a person that includes 10 sampling tickets. I think we should support all of our local groups.
Ryan July 29, 2011 at 11:04 PM
I think Eric D. needs a hug. And a good beer.
Jeff L Estoll July 30, 2011 at 12:27 AM
I could not agree with you more, except that I called you a troll, that was aimed at Eric. While some have tact, I am very straight to the point and refuse to beat around the bush (not saying that is what Steve did). I am a very blunt person and usually will hold off on making comments. What set me off was when he called them dishonest. In my opinion, when he did that, it was crossing the line. To win people over is not my goal. I was replying to set the record straight and to call out Eric. The reason things were erased is that (believe it or not) I hate negativity. Like I said before this is suppose to be a positive article. And more than likely my comments will be down later tonight.
Marty K. August 02, 2011 at 06:40 PM
As a beer enthusiast I am always excited to find a good beer fest.
Marty K. August 02, 2011 at 07:49 PM
I am very much a beer fest enthusiast. I am also very much a community enthusiast. Normally I would be the 1st in line, but I have hesitated purchasing a ticket to this fest due to all of the controversy surronding it and it's organizers and did not want to buy a ticket that may or may not be refunded. As for the fest, I am pleased to see a beer fest anywhere especially in plfld, more so when it is being used to improve the community. I think the conflict over the fest seems to be more about the organizers than the fest it's self. I regularly visit Finnegans and Limestone because i enjoy their beer selection. I will admit that while no, i do not always agree with either of the owners of these pubs business practices ( I have a neighbors daughter who worked at one and had a constant battle to recieve pay and different associates who claim to have negative dealings with the other) but when I visit their restaurants it's for food, beer and enjoyment. I can understand how there would be concern. As much of a beer lover I may be, my concern is more with the welfare of the town I live in than drinking a beer I can buy at binnys.
Marty K. August 02, 2011 at 07:58 PM
continued........While reading the comments posted above one struck me with reason to doubt the charitable interest this fest is pushing. Mr. Thalman your post states that you saw this as great opportunity to volunteer to help support your community with zero benefit to you, and that is equally the intention of Dale and Steve. A few months back while sitting in Finnegans with friends and family Mr. Lewis and yourself chatted with our table for a couple minutes regarding a brewery that you both were planning on building down the street and how you would use this brewers fest as a platform to jump start this project. While I applaud your effort to open a new brewery ( i will be your first customer) and a brewers fest is the most likely place to promote your idea, that conflicts with your representation that you nor anyone else has any personal stake in this particular fest. In fact isnt your web site the greatest beer of all time one of the main sponsors and organizors of this event? Mr. Thalman I in no way want the idea that I am personally attacking you. You seem like a very nice man and I appreciate your love of fine beer. I have been to many of great beer festivals where the intent WAS self promotion and profit, and I see nothing wrong with that. Self promotion is the best type of promotion. But this fest is being sold to the residents as a completely charitable selfless act, when in fact it is not. Surely you can understand how there may be those residents who may not
Marty K. August 02, 2011 at 08:02 PM
continued.....have the love for beer that we both do but would tolerate this type of festival if it was truely benefiting their community only to find out that perhaps it is not exactly that way. Then reasonably have a negative reaction to it. Cheers and pre-congratulations on your new brewery, which by the way WAS posted on the festivals various websites (dupage brewery) but has since been removed??
Steve Caton August 05, 2011 at 05:20 PM
Hi Eric, We recently asked the village police for the right to increase the # of tickets per person and it was granted to 25 + 5 tickets for the GA ticket, which is 30 included tasting tickets included in your entry ticket. the extra tickets to purchase was a misprint in this article. The extra tickets are 20 tickets for $10, or 40 oz of rare craft beer for $10. We listened to comments like yours, thank you. Hope this helps you consider attending this event and supporting the fundraising cause while having fun. Cheers
Steve Caton August 05, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Hi Marty, Thank you for your comments. I wanted to respond to clarify that the arguments of whether the volunteers and contributors are doing this as a selfless act with no benefit or as business people who will benefit from exposure of having their businesses involved. I don't think that anyone is denying that local businesses that are sponsoring with time or money and getting recognized as supporting a local cause will get some benefit to their local business. If that fact bothers people to not want to come be a part of this event, that is their right to not attend. But to clarify on one point, 100% of the proceeds are going to charities and the non-for-profit local cause the redevelopment of the Riverfront.
Steve Caton August 05, 2011 at 05:41 PM
continued......Jason is one of the many volunteers who has been meeting every week since January and put in hundreds of hours and resources to help get a new and exciting regional event off the ground in our community. It was the call of the organizers to recognize these local business leaders who wanted to help make this a reality, by listing their businesses as active partners. I do hope first time visitors to Plainfield for this event do see the tremendous support and unity in our business community and want to be a part of it. It is a lot of work to organize and generate the interest for an event of this size, and as one of the business owners, there are a lot easier, less time consuming, yet self-serving ways I could spend my time & energy to promote my business, but that would defeat the foundation of why we all came together for this cause. I hope you and others will come check out the event created by your fellow citizens and business leaders that will generate the dollars and awareness to get this unfunded gem downtown redeveloped, benefiting us all.
Ed Arter August 05, 2011 at 07:00 PM
It was a pleasure meeting you at Thursdays River Fest Meeting. You deserve a big Thank You for your efforts on river clean up.Plainfield people remember a helping hand and I hope that they will frequent your orginazation.Looking forward to the Mud Volley Ball tourney you are leading on Sept 10 . Location has been changed so that the Mud will now be a main attraction.
Ed Arter August 05, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Opps---- last post was directed to Brian Bart

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