Nevada has its Burning Man, Guatemala has the Burning of the Devil, Scotland has the flaming Up Helly Aa, and now Duluth will have a burning shark festival.
Well, it’s not just about a giant wooden shark burning, but that’s going to be the best part.
In their ongoing effort to try fun things, like summer concerts at the boathouse and the Duluth Winter Village on the yard, Glensheen Mansion officials have planned “Fire Fest” set for Saturday, Feb. 15, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Duluth's most famous Lake Superior waterfront mansion will host the outdoor festival with food, flaming cocktails, 25 fire pits, marshmallows to roast, local craft beer, music, fire dancers, a portable sauna, a scavenger hunt, blacksmithing demonstration and much more — including a 24-foot-long, 12-foot-high wooden shark made out of hardwood pallets with plywood fins.
“The idea is that Minnesotans don't necessarily just like winter for cold things. We also like it for warming up next to a fire,’’ said Dan Hartman, Glensheen director. “We did a little research and fire festivals are big all over the world. ... So now we’re going to have one in Duluth. It’s a reason for people to get outside and have some fun. A celebration of warmth in the middle of winter ... and another way to get the community to enjoy Glensheen.”
Hartman asked local woodworkers Joel Vikre and Nik Wourms, who do their carpentry under the name Tilt Town Fabricating, to build the shark just to be burned. It took them a week, but it’s ready to go.
“The hardest part is going to be moving it,” Vikre said in his garage where the shark was built and is awaiting its fiery ruin. The shark is expected to go up in flames about 5 p.m. the night of the festival, just as the sun goes down.
The shark theme has been used before around Duluth. Glensheen has hosted a shark-watchers society in recent years, on Wednesdays in spring, where folks would gather on the shore of the lake and watch for of course non-existent sharks. And former Duluth Mayor Don Ness once vowed he would keep Lake Superior shark-free if elected. He kept his pledge.
Hartman said there are no plans for anyone to jump the burning shark.
Tickets for Fire Fest are $10 and are available at glensheen.org. Admission to the outdoor festival will also be included in any Glensheen tour ticket sold that day.
This story was updated at 9:22 p.m. to include the proper name of the Duluth Winter Village. It was originally posted at 5:03 p.m.