After multiple trips to Burning Man, a massive summer’s-end fire art celebration in the Nevada desert, Erin Ries and Chris Myers were inspired to bring the artistry and blazing energy to the mountain town of Telluride.

“We have been to Burning Man nine times for me and 13 for Chris,” said Ries, Telluride Fire Festival event director and co-founder. “After I went the first two times with him, we looked at each other and said, ‘All of this amazing art never gets seen by anyone other than those who go to Burning Man.’ We wanted to bring Burning Man’s ethos to Telluride as well as to support artists doing this unique art form, fire art.”

They started Telluride Fire Festival in January 2015 with a nod to the fire artists and burning sculptures they’d seen at Burning Man. Heretofore held in January, this year the event has moved up a month and will be held Friday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 9, with a kickoff art exhibition opening Thursday, Dec. 6.

“We moved it to December, which is traditionally a quieter time of year in Telluride, so it supports the local economy. And (the fire events are) safe because it’s snowy and cold,” Ries said. “Also, the lodging properties often have good discounts available.”

Fire-inspired ticketed and free events and fee-based workshops on stained glass and glass blowing are held throughout the weekend.

“There is probably nothing else like the Fire Festival in the area or the U.S.,” Ries said.

From 5-8 p.m. Friday, “Hot Time in the Old Town” will be in the 100-year- old historic stone Transfer Warehouse, which has no roof. It features fire art installations, fire spinning, fire dancers, music, food and a cash bar, all for $15 admission. Fire artists come from throughout the Four Corner states. “Even if it’s cold out, the fire art is going to warm people up,” Ries said.

Saturday’s big events are “Fire on the Mountain” (9:30 p.m.), when three large wood sculptures will be burned to the ground, and the “Fire Ball,” a 9 p.m to 2 a.m. costume ball fundraiser for the nonprofit festival, featuring aerialists and fire dancers. It draws up to 500 people to the Great Room at the Gondola Station St. Sophia. Tickets are $40 for both events, telluridefirefestival.org/product/fire-ball/, or $10 for “Fire on the Mountain” only, telluridefirefestival.org/product/fire-on-mountain/. A free fire performance will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday outside the Madeline Hotel. Capping the weekend of events is the 7 p.m. Sunday “Fireside Soiree” , put on by Homestead Circus Productions of Paonia at “The Bob” (formerly the Black Box theater), featuring stunts, comedy, live acts and cocktails. General admission is $35; VIP admission, including a seat at a table, is $50.

MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM

Features Reporter/Special Sections Editor

Michelle is a features reporter and editor of The Gazette's annual Best of the Springs and FYI magazines. A Penn State journalism graduate, she joined the Gazette in 2015.

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