Pit Fire Festival

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10th Annual Pit Fire | Oct. 14, 2016, 5-9 p.m.

Pit Fire Festival

Are you curious about the Cochise College Pit Fire? The 10th annual Cochise College Pit Fire Festival- produced by the Douglas campus Art Department- is inviting the public to discover a myriad of ceramics, sounds, tastes, and visual and performing artists from 5 – 9 p.m. on Friday, October 14.

Alongside a large scale pit firing of over 1,000 ceramic works, the college transforms the ceramics studio and the surrounding area into a celebration of creative collaboration with local sounds, flavors, and talented performers united to form a beautiful scene of culture and diversity. This event is committed to participation that sparks the creative genius, and ignites the array of artistic talents in our community. Proceeds from the event support the Cochise College Art Department as well as many of the schools student-ran clubs.

While nurturing all types of visual and performing arts the Cochise College Art Department will celebrate the largest pit fire event held in Southern Arizona. This event draws participants from New Mexico, Mexico, northern Arizona, and California – just to name a few. Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration, and we are committed to a participatory ethic. Cochise College’s mission is to provide accessible educational opportunities that are responsive to a diverse population and lead to constructive citizenship, meaningful careers and lifelong learning. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. The evening will be full of non-stop movement and camaraderie that will ripple out into the community.

The day of the event, artists will line a trench with their ceramic artworks on the north side of the Douglas campus. Later in the evening,  the ceremonial pit fire will be ignited. The following morning, all of the signature ceramic works will be cleaned and exhibited in a public gallery show in Bisbee as an extension of the educational aspect of pit firing.


Be sure to arrive early to have plenty of time to participate in booth activities, browse the artwork in our silent auction, and dance to the sounds of lively performances.

Every year, an art student is chosen to hand-make 1000 ceramic bowls. Bowls can be purchased at the event for $10.00 and filled with soup made from the college’s culinary arts department. These bowls made wonderful collector’s items and many spectators have a bowl from each year of the Pit Fire.

Ceramic pit firing is the oldest traditional method of firing clay wares dating back to the Mesopotamian era. Cochise County’s ancient roots can be traced through pottery shards found in archaeological digs surrounding the Douglas campus. As scores of participants converge for the Douglas campus Pit Fire, the ancient dialogue of firing pots in the ground will once again engage our ties to the history of our ancestors.

The Cochise College Pit Fire started in 2005 with collaboration between Cochise College instructors Tate Rich, Mike Garino, and potters invited to the college from a pueblo in Mexico called Mata Ortiz. These skilled artisans presented their daily practices and shared their pit firing methods with the Cochise community. Over the span of the next 6 years, the pit fire event evolved into a large-scale festival. Each year this communal pit fire rejuvenates ties from previous years while bonding individuals through a commitment in creativity.

Everyone involved agrees that the hard work surrounding the event is a gratifying process- a yearlong journey that culminates in the building of an artistic community centered on clay. “We believe in creating a platform for transformation, whether in the individual or society,” said Mr. Rich. “And it occurs through collaboration, commitment, and deeply personal participation.”


to make your own pit fire vessel or to volunteer 520-417-4025

To become a vendor or a sponsor you can download, print, and fill out the correlating form.
Pit Fire Vendor Form

Bring the whole family!
In its tenth year of occurrence we would like to invite you to attend the Cochise College Pit Fire Festival 2016. With hundreds of attendees expected to attend this live event we will be celebrating the arts with live performances and workshops culminating in the main event of lighting the pit fire on the night of October 14.

Please bring your bisque ware if you would like to include your artwork in the pit fire. We are also inviting artists to submit their work in our international invitational by mailing their work from around the globe to be included in the pit fire.

Why Cochise College’s Pit Fire?
This event is an educational celebration of the arts and we are extending outreach to our community in hopes of making this happen for years to come.

More than just a pit fire, the Cochise College Pit Fire Festival represents the artistic expression of our global community. Bringing together 4,000 attendees this event gives you access to a committed and growing college network from all parts of Mexico, Arizona, California, and many other states.

This is an opportunity to reach a collective of college-educated students, instructors, and social influencers. You will have the opportunity for your brand to interact and engage with influential artists attending and speaking at the festival.

In its tenth year, the Cochise College Art Festival is the annual event for the community drawing in diverse artists in collaboration with local sounds, flavors, and talented performers.

Friends of the Art Department
Individuals who support the Cochise College Art Department financially automatically become members of the Friends of the Art Department. Members who have provided contact information receive the biannual “Accolade” magazine and may be invited to special events put on by the department. Funding supports scholarships, professional development, and equipment and supplies for the Art Department. Questions may be directed to the Cochise College Foundation.



View the 2015 Cochise College Pit Fire Festival Story
Pit Fire Pottery Festival Slideshow

Watch the 2013 Cochise College Pit Fire Festival Video from Lily’s Media

Watch the 2012 Cochise College Pit Fire Festival – Teaser Video by Stephen Crout.

Watch the 2010 Pit Fire Festival Documentary by Stephen Crout.

Watch the 2009 Pit Fire Festival Documentary by Stephen Crout.

Watch the “A Day in the Life of a Cochise College Pit Fire Pot” by Stephen Crout



We’ll see you at the Cochise College Ceramics Department at 4190 West Highway 80, Douglas, AZ 85607. The event is free to the public and runs from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. on Friday, October 14. Do you have questions, or want to participate? Call 520-417-4025.

Do you want to participate in the ceramic pit fire? Center for Life Long Learning is offering a special class spanning four Saturdays where you will immerse yourself in designing and building your own piece of pottery or clay sculpture. The final work will be included in this year’s pit fire. For more information and enrollment please contact Sharon Gilman at 520-515-5382.

Anyone needing an accommodation in order to attend should contact the Disability Services Office, 520-515-5337 or 520-417-4023, at least 72 hours in advance.