Pit Fire Festival

Pit Fire Pottery Festival - Friday, October 4, 2019, 5 p.m.

Bring the whole family!

The public is invited to the annual Cochise College Pit Fire Festival- produced by the Douglas campus Art Department. Discover a myriad of ceramics, sounds, tastes, and visual and performing artists starting at 5:00 p.m. on the Douglas Campus. The Pit Fire lighting will be around 8:00 p.m.

There will be bands, performances, art displays, vendors displaying their wares and fireworks.

2019 Pit Fire Pottery Festival

This year’s entertainment is being planned now!

2019 Vendors:

We are currently taking applications for this year’s vendors!

A pit fire is an ancient method of “baking” clay that has been placed in a hole or pit dug into the ground with a wood fire burning above, resulting in pieces covered in swirls of colors and patterns. Cochise College celebrates this technique with a festival to celebrate the arts. All proceeds support the Cochise College art department and the clubs who participate as vendors. The event is free to attend, but you can purchase a hand-crafted ceramic bowl for $10 to fill with gourmet soup, freshly made by the college’s culinary arts club. 1000 ceramic bowls were each hand-made and uniquely crafted by an art student.

Please be aware, many vendors accept only cash and there aren’t any ATMs on site.

The Pit Fire Festival may not proceed in its entirety or the Fire Lighting may be delayed in extremely windy weather if it is unsafe to do so.


Event Location

Douglas Campus | 4190 West Highway 80
Douglas, AZ 85601 | (520) 417-4025


Ceramics being baked by the pit fire.
A celebration of the arts.
Photo Gallery Website:
Photo credit-Stephen Crout
Pit Fire Festivals
of soup
of wood burned

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. Whether you are a vendor, fellow artist or another school wishing to participate, we encourage you to reach out and be our partner for this great event.

More than just a pit fire, the Cochise College Pit Fire Festival represents the artistic expression of our global community. Bringing together thousands of 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 collection of college-educated students, instructors, and social influencers.

In its eleventh 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.

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.

Get Involved

become a vendor.

Pit Fire Vendor Form (google form)


The 10th Annual Pit Fire Pottery Festival- Published October 13, 2016

For nearly a decade, around mid-October, Cochise College and the Art Department have invited the community, local painters and potters, students, and artists from across the world, to celebrate the craft of pottery with music, dance and cuisine.

On October 14, the Cochise College Douglas Campus will once again blaze the night with flames, in what will be the 10th Annual Pit Fire Pottery Festival.

This year, to add to the celebration, the Cochise College Ceramics Department has invited Justin Lambert, a longtime ceramics artist, to bring something new to the Pit Fire Pottery Festival.

Lambert works as a studio artist and sells about 1000 pieces of artwork each year. For the past ten years, he has dedicated a portion of his time to traveling through China to cities like Shanghai, Jingdezhen, Xian and Beijing. He’s also traveled to Scaelskor, Denmark and all over the United States, to study his craft and lecture about wood firing. Over the years, he has become an expert in his field and enjoys teaching his techniques to students.

“If I saw a piece of ceramic art work, I could tell you what type of kiln it was fired in and what kind of wood was used to make it, but the average person couldn’t tell.” Lambert explained. “Wood firing is known to be a medium that requires a good amount of luck, but I don’t believe that at all. It is science, you know. Sure, there is a tiny bit of chance in everything, but more or less, I can go to any kiln, anywhere and with any type of wood, and get pretty consistent results.”

The ceramic artist has been visiting Cochise College since the beginning of October to help teach the Ceramics Department about wood kiln firing. They are also in the process of constructing and building a new wood kiln on the Cochise College Douglas Campus all before the Pit Fire Pottery Festival begins this Friday.

Justin Lambert and volunteers from the Art Department have been working almost fifteen hour days for the last week to build the new wood kiln. Made out of refractory bricks and kiln fiber, the new wood kiln sits right next to the ceramics building.

The design is called a tube kiln and has an extremely strong arch called a catenary arch. Unlike most wood kilns, this kiln is built with a smoke combustion chamber a technique that Justin himself has invented.

“The wood kiln combustion chamber is based off of a masonry heater,” Lambert explained. “Which is basically a fireplace that helps direct the draft in a way to promote sections to radiate high temperatures and consequently mixes with a lot of air. Without this chamber, the flames move very fast, which means the ash can accumulate on mainly the front side of the piece. Whereas with a combustion chamber, it slows the flame down, so the flame and ash kind of move all around the artwork, and the ash tends to be more evenly distributed and the pieces tend to have a more vivid color.”

Visitors who attend this Friday will see the new kiln blazing hot for the Pit Fire Pottery Festival. Justin Lambert will have his artwork on display, and the public will be able to gaze at the Pit Fire and the wood kiln blazing at temperatures over 2000 degrees.

The Mariachi Plata, Bluegrass Souls and Cirque Roots will provide music and entertainment on the main stage, while other local dancers and musicians will provide entertainment on a second stage. The evening will be full of non-stop movement and camaraderie that will ripple out into the community.

Peter Chartrand is a local potter in Bisbee, Arizona, and the former director for Potters for Peace, an international organization, which helps build basic water filtrations systems in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“[This wood kiln is] actually a sophisticated tool,” Chartrand said. “Especially for this part of the world. So it’s a chance for local artists to take advantage of having it in the area and will probably bring in new artists. The Pit Fire has elevated the Cochise College Art Department and this kiln is one more step in that direction, providing more opportunity for local artists in the ceramics world.”

Tate Rich, the Cochise College ceramics instructor, said, “This is such an incredible opportunity for Cochise College. It takes a community of people to put the Pit Fire together. Take the new wood kiln; it will need wood added to it every five minutes. That means at midnight, someone will have to be down there, feeding the kiln. It takes a community to make this happen, and we are lucky to have an amazing community to come together and help out.”

The Pit Fire Pottery Festival begins October 14 on the Cochise College Douglas Campus at 5:30 p.m. For more information about the Pit Fire Pottery Festival and a list of the evenings’ performers, visit the Pit fire festival page.


This year’s workshops/classes to be announced soon.