Beetle under construction for Bark Beetle Blues

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In two weeks the town of Custer will be holding their annual Bark Beetle Blues Festival.
Right now, the Burning Beetle is still under construction.

Thursday, Bark Beetle volunteers Frank Carroll and Hank Fridell were putting a few touches on the 16–foot long Mountain Pine Beetle which will be set ablaze in a coupe of weeks.
It takes about a dozen people several months to put the giant insect together.
Carroll says Custer was one of the areas worst hit and it's difficult for people to deal with the impact the beetles have had.

Carroll says, "This is kind of a catharsis, there are many communities in the world that have these ceremonies at the end of the year to throw out the old and bring in the new and that's what this is about. This is a way for the community to express its frustration in a positive way."

And the ceremony contains a small amount of irony as well.
The giant beetle is constructed from trees that were victim to the Mountain Pine Beetle.

Hank Fridell says, "The whole outside is made of blue stained bark beetle wood, trees that have been killed by the bark beetle. We've been ripping them into slabs and putting it on there. It's beautiful wood; structurally it's still very sound."

The guys say more than 1,000 people attended the Bark Beetle Blues last year, even drawing some national attention in the process.

Carroll says, "National Geographic covered it last year, that story appears in March and that will build momentum for the following year we're thinking and so we're looking forward to it being on the agenda for a few years as we continue to deal with this problem that's very difficult."

The festivities kick off Saturday January 17th at Custer High School with presentations about the Mountain Pine Beetle and their effect on the Black Hills.
After that the giant beetle will be burned followed by two hours of fun, food and music during the third annual Bug Crawl.