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Burning Man is a week-long annual event held in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, in the United States. The event starts on the Monday before, and ends on the day of, the American Labor Day holiday (August 29 to September 5, 2011). It takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy on Saturday evening. The event is described by many participants as an experiment in community, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. In 2010, 51,515 people attended Burning Man. 2011 attendance was capped at 50,000 participants and the event sold out on July 24. The annual event now known as Burning Man began as a bonfire ritual on the summer solstice in 1986 when Larry Harvey, Jerry James, and a few friends met on Baker Beach in San Francisco and burned a 9-foot (2.7-meter) wooden man as well as a smaller wooden dog. Harvey has described his inspiration for burning these effigies as a spontaneous act of radical self-expression. The event did have earlier roots, though. Sculptor Mary Grauberger, a friend of Harvey's girlfriend Janet Lohr, held solstice bonfire gatherings on Baker Beach for several years prior to 1986, some of which Harvey attended. When Grauberger stopped organizing it, Harvey "picked up the torch and ran with it," so to speak. He and Jerry James built an 8-foot (2.4-meter) wooden effigy for 1986, which was much smaller and more crudely made than the neon-lit figure featured in the current ritual. In 1987, the effigy grew to almost 15 feet (4.6 meters) tall, and by 1988, it had grown to around 40 feet (12 meters). 1991 was the first year that the event had a legal permit with the BLM (the Bureau of Land Management). 1996 was the first year a formal partnership was created to own the name. 1996 was also the last year that the event was held in the middle of the Black Rock Desert and had no fence around it. Serious accidents occurring with motorized vehicles that year and pressure from county law enforcement compelled the organizers to limit driving and to create a grid of roads for all subsequent events. Rod Garrett is credited with the concentric design that continues to be used today. In April 2011, Larry Harvey announced that the LLC was beginning a 3-year process to transfer ownership and control of the event over to a new non-profit called the "Burningman Project". The move towards becoming a non-profit was the result of "bitter infighting" between members of the board. At one point it looked like all of the board members were going to hire lawyers. Corporate appraisers were brought in to determine how much the company is worth, which Larry Harvey found "abhorrent" and against all of the values that Burning Man stood for. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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