All invited to catch the blues this week
Published: Thursday, April 11th, 2013
This week is “Bark Beetle Blues Week” in Custer, and Custer residents and others from near and far are invited to help celebrate the week that culminates with a variety show Saturday, April 13, at the YMCA.
Events started Tuesday with a landowner conversation about the beetle infestation, giving people a chance to hear how landowners are dealing with infestation on their property. Tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Custer County Library there will be a book discussion on Andrew Nikiforuk’s book, “Empire of the Beetle.” Kathy Antonen from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology will facilitate the discussion, joined by entomologist Angie Ambourn.
On Saturday, beginning at 6:45 p.m., there will be a variety show at the Custer YMCA. Hank Fridell, one of the organizers of the event, said those who come to the variety show can expect talents such as music, dance and juggling.
“A good time is guaranteed for all,” he said.
This week’s activities come on the heels of the Jan. 19 Bark Beetle Blues Bug Crawl, where there was live entertainment at the Buglin’ Bull, Naked Winery and the Bank Coffee House for six hours. Scheduled performers and walk-in performers alike performed for hundreds of people, while those who attended also wrote in books about their beetle thoughts, wrote messages to the beetles and the forest and put stickers on a “Stages of Grief” poster indicating how they were dealing with the infestation.
In addition, there were a dozen original bark beetle songs that area songwriters performed. The recordings are available at bark
beetleblues.weebly.com. Around 400 people attended the event.
The bark beetle events were born a year ago, when Linda Manlove saw an arts installation in Wyoming about the beetle infestation going on in Wyoming and Colorado.
“Her vision was to give the community an opportunity to have a conversation about the beetles through the arts,” Fridell said. “Our purpose is to create awareness about Custer communities reaction to the pine beetle infestation by celebration and renewal.”
Organizers have met with community focus groups, involved the Custer Area Arts Council, formed a committee to help plan its efforts and began to roll out a series of events. They also created a Facebook page that allows people to follow the project at Facebook.com/barkbeetleblues.
Fridell said the group had been looking for different ways to make the community aware of the Bark Beetle Blues project, and asking for an executive proclamation from Mayor Gary Lipp seemed like a good way to get the city involved.
“We really appreciate the city’s involvement,” he said. “Our Black Hills forest is going through a dramatic change, and we want to give people a chance to come together at different arts activities to have a conversation about the beetle infestation.”
In June, the group hopes to work with the YMCA to sponsor a marathon in Custer State Park, and in July there are plans to bring in the Butterfly Puppet Theatre to work with children at the YMCA day program to help them make beetle and bug puppets. The children will then show off their work by being in the Gold Discovery Days parade.
In January 2014, the events will culminate with a “wake.” The day will begin with music at several downtown businesses, similar to what happened in January with the Bug Crawl. That will be followed by a requiem and culminate the day with a burning beetle bonfire. Fridell said National Geographic Magazine has contacted the group about possible photographing the event as part of an article it is doing on the destruction of Western forests.
There are new T-shirts avaliable for the variety show on sale at Shanklins. There will be T-shirts available for each event and posters and framed artwork for sale at the variety show.
Anyone interested in getting involved in helping with the project is encouraged to contact Fridell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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