Vermonter reflects on Burning Man 2023 experience

Published: Sep. 10, 2023 at 8:30 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - A week after wild weather stranded thousands of people in a Nevada desert, one Vermonter is recounting her experience at Burning Man.

Burning Man is an experimental arts festival that builds a city of 70,000 people in the middle of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert once a year. This season, festival attendees were troubled by close to an inch of rain. The rain on what festivalgoers call “the playa” created a sticky mud that caused organizers to announce a stay-in-place order. While emergency vehicles were still able to move, bathrooms were unable to be serviced, ice was rationed and many people’s belongings were damaged.

Vermonter Cindy Gauthier has been to Burning Man three times and was one of this year’s attendees. She compared the storm to camping and flooding in Vermont.

“I think the rain, and I don’t know what you want to call it ‘catastrophe’ or whatever, really brought people together more and it made it more of a reason to go. I think when people just come together it solves everything. Yeah, I’ll definitely go back. I don’t know when, but we’ll see,” said Gauthier.

The Black Rock Desert is an extreme environment. Some attendees are calling on the organization to settle the festival’s principles of “leaving no trace,” “civic responsibility” and “communal effort” with the festival’s existence and emissions with the climate and how it’s changing.

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