Upcoming Event: Winter Solstice Paleo-Bison Burning in Bluff

Paleo Bison Buring- photo: Bluff Arts Festival

Paleo Bison in the works for the 2014 Winter Solstice Celebration- photo: Bluff Arts Festival

Two years ago the town of Bluff hosted a unique event on the Winter Solstice- a Mammoth Effigy Burning.  Two local artists, Joe Pachak and JR Lancaster, with the help of some Bluff residents, built a 16 foot mammoth out of willow and cottonwood in an open lot in the center of town.  The mammoth was built with the intention to not only celebrate the Winter Solstice, but also to bring awareness to the area’s history and to the mammoth petroglyph along the San Juan River near town.

2012 Mammoth Effigy- Bluff, UT- photo: Wayne Ranney

2012 Mammoth Effigy- Bluff, UT- photo: Wayne Ranney

Mammoth Effigy- 2012- Bluff, UT- photo:Wayne Ranney

Mammoth Effigy- 2012- Bluff, UT- photo: Wayne Ranney- All In A Days Karma

Although the mammoth was definitely a work of art that could have attracted many people had it been left standing, it was built with the purpose of being burned on the Winter Solstice, and that’s just what happened.  It turned into a pretty large event- a few hundred people showed up to watch flaming spears be shot at the mammoth to set it on fire.

Video credits: Larry Ruiz  copyright 2013 Cloudy Ridge Productions

For the Winter Solstice this year Joe Pachak and JR Lancaster have been working on a Paleo-Bison Effigy.  When I signed up for the Willow Weaving Workshop at the Bluff Arts Festival, I saw that ‘Build a Bison Sculpture’ was on the schedule of events, and was running all day long throughout the length of the Arts Festival.  I saw them working on it as we drove by, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop and take a closer look.  But, the fact that it was in the works in mid-October shows that it takes a LONG time to complete something like this!  I missed the first one, but I’m definitely planning to attend this year!  The Bison Burning has expanded and there are a few other events planned in Bluff that day prior to the Bison Burning itself.  Here’s the tentative schedule for the Winter Solstice (December 21st, 2014) Bison Burning:

  • Free photo workshop given by JR Lancaster, ‘How to Get the Most (With Your Camera) Out of a Flaming Megafauna’.  The only workshop like it in the world! (1:00pm)
  • Exhibition of bison paintings by Brent Spink at Cloudwatcher Gallery followed by music and poetry.
  • Lighted bike ride through Bluff (sunset)
  • Poi Fire Spinner performance
  • The ignition with flaming atlatl darts followed by dancing and singing (Solstice Shuffle) (7:00pm)

*I’d like to give a big THANK YOU to Wayne Ranney for permission to use the beautiful photos from his blog, All In A Days Karma!

Distance from Bluff to lodging in San Juan County, Utah:

For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386

Or e-mail us at: info@utahscanyoncountry.com

This entry was posted in Bluff, Events, Off the Beaten Path, Rock Art, San Juan River, Things to do for FREE!, Things to do with kids, Travel, Utah and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Upcoming Event: Winter Solstice Paleo-Bison Burning in Bluff

  1. What a cool event! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thom says:

    Love the Sophie Hook photo credit at the end of the video

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