BRE backgroundAs 2016 comes to a close, Burning River Entertainment reflects on another great year. We’re up for awards again, which is pretty awesome. The company was named one of the five finalists for a 2017 Connector’s Choice Award for “Best Corporate Event Entertainer” by Cleveland Business Connects Magazine.

In addition, Burning River was selected by our past clients as a winner of the 2017 “Couple’s Choice Award” through Wedding Wire, as you may have noticed by our spiffy new badge which was recently added to the site.

For the Connector’s Choice Award, this is now the company’s second straight year as a nominee. We thought it might be fun to look back at our written submission for last year’s awards while we were typing up our nominee article for this year. Check it out below!

January 18, 2016

Contact: Gene Natale, Jr.
Owner | Founder | Headline Entertainer
[email protected]


CLEVELAND, OHBurning River Entertainment Group (BRE) opened up for business mid-year in 2014 and thus 2015 was the first full year of operation. This past year was filled with successes as the organization established ties with corporate entities throughout Cleveland, carving out its own niche in the marketplace with top entertainment and customer service, while giving back to the community by helping provide entertainment for worthy causes.

“It is truly incredible and humbling for BRE to be considered for this award,” stated company owner and founder Gene Natale, Jr., “Especially considering the massively successful entertainers that we are pitted against in the category for Best Corporate Event Entertainer.” He continued, “As a small company that just completed its first year as a true business entity, we are proud of what we have accomplished in a short time.”

The connections BRE has made with organizations like the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF) represent a solid foundation of business: one to continue growing and expanding upon.

One of the notable events BRE provided entertainment for in 2015 was the Walk for Wishes at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It was a huge event for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, with over 2,000 people attending the charity fundraiser. With such high numbers, this was the most heavily attended walk at the zoo for the organization compared to past years. The foundation had set a goal of raising $185,000 for the day, which would equate to roughly 25 wishes being granted for children in the program.

With such a large number of people expected, it was crucial to have a DJ that could handle entertaining this crowd with a very diverse age group, and provide a sound system capable of reaching everyone in attendance. Judging by the response from the client and guests in attendance, those goals were realized, and then some.

The event was handled by lead entertainer Gene Natale: from sales, to planning, and finally to providing the entertainment on-site. In the words of Make-A-Wish Development Officer Megan Cantrell, “We had so many people coming up to us telling us how much they loved you! Gene, you were so much fun, the kids loved you and you really got the audience into the dancing! Thank You!” She later stated that they received over a thousand evaluation forms from people attending the event that specifically mentioned how much fun they had with the DJ and how much they enjoyed the music. Additionally, the fundraiser was a great success financially, exceeding its goal.

This event led to another in support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, as BRE was called upon to provide DJ services for the 7th Annual Rivals Sports Grille Chili Cookoff, a fundraiser involving 27 fire departments from the Greater Cleveland Area. Each department made its own batch of chili, which was doled out to the hundreds of people who attended, with all proceeds going to the foundation.

After this event, another tens of thousands of dollars were raised for granting wishes – according to the Make-a-Wish website, the average wish costs $7,500, so each $7,500 raised throughout the day was celebrated as making another dream come true for another child in an unfortunate situation.

With these two events, BRE solidified this connection with a major charity organization, all the while working with their budget to make sure that the maximum amount of money goes to the cause.

Halloween brought another big event for BRE this year, as the company was hired to host trivia for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH). This was something that CMNH had never done before as a part of this event, which they hold every year inside the museum with hundreds of people attending. For this event, BRE sent its experienced DJ Ernie to put a different spin on the same old trivia. Ernie ran trivia with prizes and Halloween music, while spinning dance tracks throughout and getting people out dancing – trivia and dancing combined!

CMNH contact for the event Rachel Burnham was pleased with the result, saying in a post-event review that “Ernie was so entertaining and engaged with our guests throughout the entire event!” Like Megan Cantrell of the Make-a-Wish foundation, she rated the service provided a perfect five out of five – which was a recurring theme throughout the year for nearly every event BRE performed at in 2015.

In April, BRE provided entertainment for another big fundraising event, this time held downtown at Barley House on West 6th Street. The Mustachio Bashio, which originally began as an excuse for a bunch of co-workers and friends to grow silly mustaches and drink beer, has evolved into one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for JDRF, an organization that raises funds so that a cure for juvenile diabetes can be researched and found. 2015 marked the fourth year in a row that BRE founder Gene Natale was called upon to provide DJ and karaoke services for the event, which in 2015 was attended by between 400-500 people, with each person donating at least 25 dollars to the cause. According to event organizer Mike Laur, “Gene has a lot of energy, and is able to read the crowd very well. He did a great job!”

Natale felt that the connections forged through networking were crucial to helping build the success that BRE had throughout 2015. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to connect with so many great event professionals and event organizations through participating in the networking events put on by the Cleveland chapter of the International Special Events Society. Becoming a member was definitely an investment well-spent, there’s no doubt about that.”

In a city like Cleveland that is filled with top-notch event professionals and event companies, BRE has made its mark on the market, and has shown through its contributions to corporate event entertainment throughout 2015 that it will continue to be an organization to watch for years to come!

[Awards] Burning River Entertainment Earns Accolades for Great 2016 in Events!