Beetle will burn Saturday

By Jacy Glazier

As is the case every year, a group of volunteers has been hard at work constructing the giant beetle that will be burned in effigy at this year’s Bark Beetle Blues event. From left are Gary Lipp, Elmer Smolinsky, Steve Pischke, James Brunner and Matt Fridell.

Come Saturday, Jan. 20, Pageant Hill will once again become ablaze with fire and fun as Custer proves the pesky Mountain Pine Beetle is no match for its residents at the sixth annual Bark Beetle Blues (BBB) ceremony presented by the Custer Area Arts Council and the Bark Beetle Blues Committee.
Sponsors for this year’s event are Sylvan Rocks Climbing School & Guide Service, Ketel Thorstenson, LLP, Custer Fire Department, Buckhorn Equipment, Highmark Credit Union, Custer Do It Best, A Walk in the Woods, Newbery Saw Mill, Oswald Family Foundation, Black Hills Balloons, Tallgrass, Southern Hills Title, Green Real Estate, Carson Drug, Svensson Construction, Professional Forest Management, Custer State Park Resort, Custer Area Chamber of Commerce, Skogen Kitchen, Jenny’s Floral, Dacotah Bank and the Buffalo Ridge Theater.
The schedule will be very similar to last year’s with the variety show, the march from the high school to the hill and the Bug Crawl, but one thing is new — the chance for artists to have their art become a lasting legacy of the BBB celebration.
This year, The Bark Beetle Blues Subcommittee of the Custer Area Arts Council seeks proposals for permanent artworks that celebrate the Custer community’s response to the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation of the Black Hills exemplified by the events surrounding the annual Burning Beetle festival.
The total project budget for the art must be between $50,000 and $75,000 and submitted artwork should include a complete and finalized budget. Artists should also include any travel and delivery expenses. A contract of performance will be negotiated between the chosen artist and committee.
Requests for proposals will be due Friday, June 1, at 5 p.m. and the selection unveiling will be presented at the event in 2020. For more information contact Phillip Abernathy at (605) 673-5800.
The variety show will start the day off at 3 p.m. at the Custer Jr./Sr. High School theatre and includes the following performers: Ed Fischer and Hank Fridell, Steve Gardner, Chris Pelczarski and Jason Deuhr, Mark Mowry, Kim Plender, Steve Thorp, Lizzie Anderson, Mark Williams, Custer Ukulele Troupe, Aces and Eights, Ruby Creek and the Lo-Ru Dance Company.
Directly after there will be a march from the high school to Pageant Hill where folks can buy a torch for $5 until they are gone. There will also be battery powered torches for kids.
The Bug Crawl includes eight stops this year with live music at each location. Venues and performers are as follows: Rose and Van Arp and Kim Plender at the Buglin’ Bull, Steve Thorpe, Steve Lynde and Bob Hadlock at Black Hills Burger and Bun, Josh Williamson and Mark Williams at the Custer Wolf, Mark Mowry and Keith Burden at Sage Creek Grille, Humbletown and Aces & Eights at the VFW, Lily and Hanna and Hanna and Kori and Alex at the Begging Burro, String Tied and Roy Hendrickson at Pizza Works and Steve Gardner and Ruby Creek at the Gold Pan.
The cost for the Bug Crawl is $5 per venue or you can purchase the official lanyard for $10 that will get you into all eight. The Burning Beetle 2018 official lanyard, as well as hats and t-shirts, are available for purchase at Jenny’s Floral, Custer Do It Best, American Family Insurance and Calamity Jane Winery & Mercantile.