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Christmas trees used to fire pottery

Now that the holiday is finished, Tama Smith has a place for all of the unwanted Christmas trees.

Not only will a number of trees go up in flames on Saturday in Beach, but heat from the blaze will be used to fire pottery.

"This will be the first centennial event," said Tama Smith, potter at Prairie Fire Pottery and coordinator for the 14th annual Christmas tree bonfire. "We gather up all the Christmas trees from all around, and we usually have chili and hot chocolate that we serve at the bonfire."

Before the bonfire is ignited, Smith puts pots into the ground to be hardened and colorized.

Items such as banana peels are then put around the pots to give them color.

"The bonfire only fires to maybe 1,500 degrees or so, and so there is no glaze on the pots," Smith said. "The combustible materials around it make an effect on it. Sometimes I get oranges, pinks, blacks, grays."

Smith said eight or nine pots will be made.

After the fire dies down, Smith said she'll take the pots out of the fire pit and put them up for auction on the Prairie Fire Pottery Web site, with all benefits split between the fire department and ambulance service.

All pots are dated and signed, she added.

The auction winner can write a check to the Beach Volunteer Fire Department or the Beach Ambulance Crew so it's tax deductible, she added.

"We usually use the funds to buy new equipment for our firefighters," said Dan Buchholz, Beach fire chief. "It's a fantastic deal."

The bonfire will be held west of the fairgrounds at 6 p.m.

Those with unwanted trees can drop them off at the site.

For information, or to have Christmas trees picked up, contact Smith at 701-260-0326. To view the pots made during the bonfire, visit