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Bluff Celebrates 2017 Winter Solstice by Burning Two 16-foot-tall Bear Effigies

Josh Ewing
Friends of Cedar Mesa
Artist Joe Pachak stands in front of the bear effigies that will be burned the night of the 2017 winter solstice

For the past few years, the town of Bluff has celebrated the winter solstice by burning huge effigies of animals. The tradition was started by Bluff artist Joe Pachak, when five years ago he built and burned a sculpture of an elk he had hunted. Other sculptures have represented a mammoth and a pair of great blue herons. This year, the town is burning two large bear effigies, designed and constructed by the artist. The fire is expected to start around 7pm. To learn more about the significance of this event and what went into it, KSJD’s Austin Cope spoke with Joe Pachak by phone. Click below to listen.

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.
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