Bonfires can be called many things: weenie-roast, camping out, backyard shin-dig, kumbaya circle… but whatever you may call it, you need to read these Kentuckian tips on how to throw a better bonfire.
1. Safety First
Always remember safety comes first when around a bonfire. To create your own fire extinguisher kit, just grab the biggest bucket in your garage, fill with water, and keep it nearby, just in case.
City folk can throw just as fun of a bonfire party in their fancy fire pits, but any flat empty clearing in a field or backyard will work just as well. You can usually tell you are going to get an authentic bonfire experience if guests have to park in the grass. However, if you receive directions such as, “You’ll know when to turn when you pass the collapsed barn on the dirt road,” this is classified as a “Backwoods-Bonfire.” Chances are you’ll have a hootin’ and hollerin’ good time, but you might also get lost out in the boonies or get your car stuck in a cornfield.
3. Collect Burn Materials
There are 3 types of materials you need to start a fire and keep it going: tinder, kindling, firewood. Newspaper works great and is often laying around, dried up corn husks work great too. The tinder catches the kindling on fire, usually small twigs and branches (for a single-ladies-themed bonfire, photos and t-shirts of ex-boyfriends can work great for kindling).
Unless you’re a bonfire pro with your own set of roasting sticks, go ahead and look for long thin branches for s’more making while you’re at it. By now you’ve probably guessed you also need wood. If you know Kentucky, you know Mother Nature changes the weather . Go ahead and collect your firewood before it rains, because soggy wood can ruin a bonfire for certain. The more wood you collect, the longer your bonfire party lasts.
4. Building the Fire
Some may try to lazily toss a bundle of wood in a heap (wrong). Others may tell you that criss-cross stacking Lincoln-Log style will be easier and also efficient, but as the logs eventually burn through and shift, you might have a runaway burning logs on the loose. Stacking logs in a tee-pee fashion may be harder than it looks at first, but this is key to having a successful and traditional looking bonfire. The triangle shape provides air access to your fuel wood, and as the logs burn through, gravity will pull them into the fire, keeping your DIY fleece throw-blanket safe from rolling logs.
5. For A Great Bonfire
In order to enjoy a great bonfire, you will definitely need seating. Most Kentuckians know ahead of time to bring their own folded lawn chairs, but hay bales are an additional comfy and festive option for seating. If you want to sound like an experienced bonfire host, toss out some cliché sayings such as, “Smoke follows beauty,” or “If you play with fire too much, you’ll wet the bed.”
Most importantly, you can’t have a good bonfire without good food. Wrangle up a few people for a party planning committee, and include menu items such as chili, hotdogs, baked beans, chips, mac’n’cheese, a few cold brews, and an overabundance of marshmallows and grahams for s’mores making.
Usually sitting out in nature playing with fire is enough to keep a lot of people entertained, but it’s always nice if you have a couple of friends that can either play guitar, bring corn-hole boards (or hillbilly golf games), tell hours worth of ghost stories or funny stories from college, or even organize a hay-ride.