It was a crazy weekend in Big Sky, Montana as the 1st ever ‘Burning Bear’ Festival took place under an envelope of stars that lived up to the town’s name. The whole thing was a bit of an enigma. Seemingly run by a man named ‘Wally’ I knew little more than that when I arrived at the base of a mountain greeted by a man in a grass skirt handing out stickers that read ‘MEH’. Here’s a bit about the rest of my completely-off-the-grid experience.
The land is owned by a man named Chris – most everyone in attendance as far as I gathered were ‘burners’ AKA people who attend the Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, Nevada regularly. Remember that guy in the grass skirt? Well, he directed us up the mountain where we lost cell signal and any connection to the outside world. I say that both literally and figuratively as what we were about to experience had nothing to do with my blogging world of social media and constant noise.
Without giving away too much of the magic, I’ll divulge of a few of Burning Bear’s happenings. At the top of that mountain was a pretty impressive stage for multiple live music acts. On stage there was a americana/electronica duo in the style of The Lumineers and my favorite, some guy by the name of Doo Crowder – a singer/songwriter within no box to fit. These bands enjoyed daytime sets on Saturday – but it was after the crisp montana nightfall that things really heated up.
Remember the mysterious Chris, the guy who owns the land? As the sun set he broke out his excavator tractor, using it’s big claw to carry large logs from the forest to the main bonfire.
While multiple fires burned, DJ’s started spinning and a Japanese style bondage tent opened up for business. No one went hungry, as each night dinner was served – Friday it was spaghetti, Saturday pork chile verde. And of course no one went thirsty either – a bar called ‘The 7 Sins Lounge’ was always open and ready to serve up some rum punch… sometimes with a spanking.
Okay so it may all sound a bit devilish, but it was actually a very beautiful experience. A woman named Lori made a breathtaking installation out of flowers picked from the forest with her toddler daughter. And in true burner fashion, nothing was ‘for sale’ – but gifting and love were in incredible abundance. Someone gave us a tent in which to sleep, as well as I made many new friends – Burning Bear created bonds that can never be broken. Those who experienced it are now and forever connected. I hope to see it come back another year.
Oh I almost forgot! In place of a ‘burning man’ there was indeed a ‘burning bear’ – the assembly of which was finished the day of by festival goers themselves and it was burned in a epic display – accompanied by fire dancers – on Saturday evening.
By: Cole Collins