2nd Annual Telluride Fire Fest: So Hot It’s Cool

2nd Annual Telluride Fire Fest: So Hot It’s Cool

The Telluride Fire Festival opens with “Colors of Fire II” exhibit at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, Wednesday, January 13, 5 – 7 p.m. Appetizers are thanks to Telluride Bistro. The weekend heats up Thursday, January 14 and burns hot through Sunday night, January 17. All daytime activities (details below) are FREE. Individual tickets are available for Friday, (ticket here) Saturday (ticket here) and Sunday (ticket here) nighttime activities. (Details below.) A four-night, all-access pass, $195, includes Friday – Sunday nighttime action, plus the very special, very exclusive party on Thursday, January 14. Thursday night is invitation-only, the Festival’s way to say thank-you to the sponsors, donors, artists, and performers. The VIP reception includes beer, wine, and appetizers, plus music and surprise theatrical performers. All-access ticket here or call 970-708-1059.   

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(With apologies to Jerry Lee Lewis):

Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire…

Then add to the mix:

A burning pink organ.

Fire-emitting art cars.

A Phoenix Dragon of Fire.

A flaming LOVE.

And other larger-then-life, animated and fiery art installations.

Plus fire dancers.

And more searing fun, including workshops in the Towns of Telluride and Mountain Village and parties.

Welcome to the 2nd annual Telluride Fire Festival, this year, Thursday, January 14 – Sunday, January 17, 2016.

El Pulpo Mecanico, Fire Fest 2015

El Pulpo Mecanico, Fire Fest 2015

Come on baby, light my fire 

Come on baby, light my fire 

Try to set the night on fire 

The Doors, a Sixties rock group, put out that provocative invitation in 1966 (in their ‘mongo hit “Light My Fire”).

Twenty years later, in 1986, Burning Man RSVP-ed.

Burning Man was born when Larry Harvey, Jerry James, and a few friends met on Baker Beach in San Francisco and burned a 9-foot (2.7-meter) wooden man and a smaller wooden dog. Burning Man evolved into an annual art event and temporary community based on radical and unedited self-expression and self-reliance that takes place annually in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

This year, however, Burning Man suffered some of the worst dust storms ever.

We pick Telluride snow storms over desert dust storms any day. You?

The Telluride Fire Festival is the love child of two Burning Man aficionados, Telluride locals Erin Ries and Chris Myers.

“The Telluride Fire Festival was born out of yearly sojourns at Burning Man in Black Rock City, NV, where spectacular moving and stationary art is on display everywhere. Telluride has a thriving arts community and we want to offer up our region as a new platform to help amplify this dynamic, singularly spectacular fire art form,” explains Ries.

Like the Black Rock Desert love-in, Telluride Fire Festival features multi-storied, fire-emitting “art cars” and burn barrels and other larger-than-life, animated, blazing art installations (as above). 

Fire artists and dancers are also scheduled be to offer spontaneous performances on the Mountain Village public plazas.

And here’s more hot news: because the event takes place in the cooler climes of our quaint, historic township (elevation 8,750 ft.), with just 2,500 year-round residents, all that sizzle comes without the heat or the five-hour-long lines of car traffic to get in and out of town.

Altitude dictates an undeniable fact of life: the Telluride Fire Fest is (literally) cooler than Burning Man. Attitude suggests the nascent Telluride event is becoming just as cool as the iconic desert happening.

Watch this video to check out some of last year’s action:

Free fire art and performances in Mountain Village:

Fire Fest begins Thursday, January 14, with a free fire-spinning performance on the deck of Mountain Lodge, Telluride, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

For the next three nights, when darkness falls, the Mountain Village Plaza becomes the center of the fiery action: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 5 – 8 p.m. features free fire art installations and fire performances by Fractal Tribe, Dance of the Sacred Fire, and Dream Team Spinners.

Check out this sensational video of a demonstration by internationally performing circus group (and tight community) Fractal Tribe given in September 2015 at TEDxBoulder:

Fire Artists:

To continue to appeal to a growing national audience for this specialized artistry, Telluride Fire Fest brings local, regional, and nationally recognized fire artists to Telluride to celebrate their medium, artists such as Seattle artist James Reinhardt.

James will be bringing The Pyred Eye, a fire art installation to be on display in Mountain Village. James is owner and founder of Forward Fabrication, LLC in WA, a custom product fabrication shop that manufactures and designs small runs of custom furniture, lighting, handrails for homes and businesses, and custom flaming pyrotechnic art installations.

Back by popular demand in 2016, is the family-friendly Phoenix Dragon of Fire with even bigger flames and smoke by Charlie and Gail Holthausen of Steamboat Springs and Joe Bob Merritt of Gunnison.

The Festival is also showcasing a new interactive fire installation by 2015 artists, Jamie Vaida and Alvin Sessions of Grand Junction: “The Burning Pink Organ.”

James Vaida’s Fire Flowers

James Vaida’s Fire Flowers, Fire Fest 2015

This creative duo designed and built the Shack To-Hell-U-Ride, last seen on Main Street last year, roof ablaze. All will be encouraged to board the 19th century, cozy minor’s shack to become part of the  smokin’ party vibe.

Thanks to local welders Aaron Smith, Rick Kesenheimer, Curtis Marble and lighting specialist, Chris Myers, the Shack received some major upgrades, including appropriate vintage furnishings for the interior, LED under-carriage lighting, period lanterns, a sound system, and a few other surprises.

The Shack To-Hell-U-Ride will be making an appearance at the 2016 Festival with these new special effects.

Free Workshops:

Free workshops are offered this year in Telluride and Mountain Village.

In town, at the Ah Haa School for the Arts, Julie McNair plans to guide people through the ancient healing process of a fire-burning ritual. The workshop will be followed by a book-signing, hosted by Between the Covers Bookstore. 

Free fire-spinning workshops take place January 15, 16, and 17, 1 – 2 p.m. Fractal Tribe teaches in Town on the deck of Element 52; Dance of the Sacred Fire teaches at Mountain Village Plaza at the base of the ski mountain in Mountain Village.

Fractal Tribe performing on Main Street, image, Ryan Bonneau

Fractal Tribe performing on Main Street, image, Ryan Bonneau

And, new this year, three, free kid-friendly Zen of Fire workshops at the Wilkinson Public Library.

Encouraged by the popularity of the welding workshop, Fire Fest is offering two classes this year: Joe Paczosa teaches Saturday, January 9 and Sunday, January 10, in Placerville; Red Brown instructs over the Festival weekend, Saturday, January 16 and Sunday, January 17 in Norwood. (Sorry, both free classes are already sold out.)

Late-evening ticketed entertainment:

Ticketed entertainment is also being offered after the free outdoor events each evening: Friday, Saturday and Sunday (January 15 – 17). These late-night ticketed events are available to guests looking for more action after 8 p.m. and they are fundraisers that help the Festival pay for the free outdoor art, performances and all the free workshops.

Electronic wizard Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation coming to Fire Festival 2016.

Electronic wizard Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation coming to Fire Festival 2016.

  • Friday night, January 15: Rob Garza (of Thievery Corporation). Includes two drink tickets for beer or wine. Doors open at 8 p.m. for this event and DJ Strangefellow opens for Rob at 8 p.m. Outside in the lobby area are purveyors of fun costumery selling fabulous fantasy clothing.
  • Saturday, January 16: Costume Fire Ball. Includes unlimited wine, beer, and a special fire-themed cocktail, plus appetizers. Guests will be treated to a theatrical performance featuring a dazzling light show, aerial silks, and mesmerizing hoop-spinning. Tunes produced by Ryan Strangefellow, Lexie Torelli, Brock Benson, and LoveTribe. For this special night, the Great Room will be expanded to include intimate seating and lounging areas. Fire sculpture outside as well atop the Gondola. The gondola stays open until 2 a.m.
  • Sunday, January 17: Meet the artists, dance, fire-spinning party at Mountain Lodge Telluride, $10. (Kids with a paying adult are free.) Performers and artists are going to be at this closing event to meet locals and visitors. Fire spinners will be on the pool deck spinning fire magic for all. JD Gluckstern and Noah Souder-Russo are the DJ’s for this night.

The evening events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday take place atop the gondola in the Great Room with a 30-foot vaulted ceiling, spectacular views and a bar.

The Sunday night “Meet the Artists” event takes place at Mountain Lodge Telluride in Mountain Village.


Keith D”Angelos “Flaming Heart,” image, Diana Ries

Keith D”Angelos “Flaming Heart,” image, Diana Ries, Fire Fest 2015

The second annual Telluride Fire Festival, this January 14-17, 2016,  is thanks in large part to the matching grant from the Presenting Sponsor, Telluride Mountain Village Home Owners Association (TMVOA). The $45,000 grant requires that the Festival match $22,000 of the grant from private donors in order to receive the entire amount:

“We are thrilled to have their support and look forward to continuing this collaboration with Mountain Village for the 2016 event,” said Fire Fest board president Myers.

In addition to TMVOA, Fire Festival’s current sponsors include AmeriGas, Brown Dog Pizza, Camel’s Garden, Clark’s Market, Cosmopolitan Restaurant,Community Banks of Colorado, Element 52, Hotel Telluride, InvitedHome, La Cocina de Luz, La Marmotte, Lumière Telluride, Madeline Hotel & Residences, Mountain Limo, Mountain Lodge Telluride, New Sheridan Hotel, Siam, Scott’s Printing, The Peaks Resort, Telluride Bistro, Telluride Newspapers, Timberline Ace Hardware, TMVOA, Tracks Café & Bar, Tree Realty, LLC, and The Victorian Inn.

More About the Telluride Fire Festival:

Erin & Chris – she’s the one in the flaming pink wig –one hot couple, founders of Telluride Fire Festival.

Erin & Chris – she’s the one in the flaming pink wig –one hot couple, founders of Telluride Fire Festival.

The Telluride Fire Festival, a 501c3 organization, is an interactive fire art experience offering free workshops and outdoor displays of fire artistry free to attendees to enable all to immerse themselves in fire arts. Dates for 2016 are January 14-17.

For more about the Festival, to become a sponsor, volunteer, or submit a fire installation for consideration, or subscribe to their enews, visit www.telluridefirefestival.org or email erin@telluridefirefestival.org.

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