“If you haven’t been in a group of people with torches, you haven’t lived.” — Hank Fridell, coordinator for the Burning Beetle Festival.

Well, if that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will!   Mr. Fridell is talking about the annual Burning Beetle Festival in Custer.   For the fifth year in a row, residents hiked up Pageant Hill to set ablaze a giant pine bark beetle made of wood.   Call it a kind of release – like the villagers in an old Frankenstein movie setting the castle on fire with torches.

In this case, the Frankenstein monster is the pine beetle.   The mountain pine beetle, to be more precise. In April, the U.S. Forest Service declared that its twenty year beetle battle had come to an end with victory for the good guys.  Still, residents feel a certain amount of due revenge by setting the giant beetle effigy on fire, then celebrating with fireworks and s’mores.

It’s actually turned into a festival, including the Bug Crawl Blues featuring live music and drinks. The Custer Fire Department provided 150 lit torches while children got electric torches.

You can read the entire story here, at the Rapid City Journal.   http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/the-battle-may-be-over-but-burning-of-the-beetle/article_3a98ba77-4350-5c19-9bea-ca4f1dd0daaf.html

What a great idea for a festival!   At South Dakota 811l, we believe in celebrating too.   We celebrate every single time someone calls 811 before they dig.   Calling 811 first prevents unnecessary accidents in the field due to hitting buried infrastructure.   Did you know there is even a manual on how to do it?   Check it out right here: http://www.sdonecall.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Operations-Manual-2017.pdf

Are you a homeowner? Call us to locate underground utilities before you dig. It’s the law. Homeowners and landowners planning to plant a tree, build a fence or disturb the ground in any way must make the required locate request at least two working days before the planned work, or sooner if planning to work on a weekend or legal holiday. If the work will be done by a professional, a representative of that company must make the call.

There are a couple of exceptions to the requirement to notify South Dakota 811. A notification to South Dakota 811 is not required when tilling soil and gardening to a depth of 12″ or when tilling soil for agricultural purposes to a depth of 18″. However, it is advised for safety reasons that you contact South Dakota 811 even then. The depth of buried lines can vary greatly!

All of us at South Dakota 811 salute the U.S. Forest Service on their victory over the mountain pine beetle. Some day soon, we want to celebrate our victory that EVERYONE digging in our state uses 811. While we can’t promise a torchlight parade, we’ll think of something to commemorate that victory!

Until next week, safe digging!

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