Burning Flipside 2018 Return of the Shadows: 20 Years of Light and Dark: Public Information Report

This year marked the 20th edition of Burning Flipside. In 1998, George Paap and about 30 people got together for “Burning Man Texas”; the first event called Burning Flipside was in 1999. Since then, a family of regional events has grown up around Texas, and Burning Flipside itself has grown steadily in size, organization, and the strength of the community that underpins it.

Tickets & Attendance

In 2018, 2710 tickets were sold, and 2627 tickets were used, for a no-show rate of about 3%. For comparison, in 2017, 3017 tickets were sold and 2870 were used, for a no-show rate of about 5%.

In 2014–2017, AAR had some form of public second-round ticket sales after the normal mail-in ticket-request process. These secondary sales have never worked well, causing either strife among participants based on where and to whom tickets were sold, large amounts of extra work for volunteers particularly those on the board, and conflict between the community and the organization when the community did not feel the sales were done well. Therefore the board decided not to do a formal secondary sale outside of critical volunteer tickets to allow the event to run.


  • Nature: It was a hot and very humid year. Apart from that, nature was cooperative.
  • Gatecrashers: There was one group of gatecrashers who did manage to enter the event, but were rounded up and removed quickly. Another group attempted to enter from the north but were picked up by Milam County Sheriff’s Office deputies before they reached the event perimeter. There was also a ticketed participant who left and attempted to return by trespassing on neighboring property. All these people received trespassing tickets.
  • Medical transports: There were a total of 8 medical transports this year, including 5 in a 24-hour period. Most of these were either caused by the heat or exacerbated by the heat, but there were a couple of accidents causing injuries as well. This put a serious load on the nearest hospital, which is very small.
  • Interpersonal incidents: Perhaps the heat left everyone feeling too sluggish to get into much trouble, but there were zero ejections during the event, and the few traceable interpersonal incidents reported post-event have not been serious.
  • Sound: There was one external sound complaint on Friday night. Rangers and the one sound marshal on duty worked with sound camps to reduce the volume levels and that complaint did not recur.


It was a record year for burnable art, with four pieces of burnable art in addition to the Effigy: the Throne, the Mermicorn, Origins, the Memorial Temple, and Wee Burn. And it was a record year for art in general, with 65 total pieces of registered and placed art.

The Effigy itself, the Pine Cononagon was memorable for its interactive elements, hidden surprises, organizing theme, performances, and so on.

Theme Camps & City Planning

There were 126 registered theme camps, plus an unknown number of informal camps in the Badlands.

There were also 130 registered RVs in theme camps, and many more in the badlands–the final figure may have been as high as 200. RVs are beginning to present challenges in terms of space availability, planning, safety, and even volunteer capacity, and this trend appears likely to continue.

The direction of Road #2, (“Bad Idea Blvd” as it was called this year) was reversed this year from what it had been previously. This seemed to cause some confusion, and in general, keeping traffic moving in the right direction on roads continued to be a problem.

Some theme camps reported being allocated less space than they expected. In a radical experiment, City Planning this year allocated space based on the requirements stated in the camp’s registration, rather than the much larger spaces allocated previously.


Parking ran smoothly, with some 1300 cars being parked. Another 150 stragglers never got properly parked.


Unsurprisingly with the heat, Ice had very high sales this year, so much so that we needed to order extra ice for delivery during the event.


2018 was the first time in many years that the organization did not operating a recycling station. Anecdotal evidence is that it was not missed.


Safetyside had roughly the same attendance as in past years, but with more people from around the country. A couple were firefighters with BRC ESD, and they had high praise for what we’re doing. The centerpiece of Safetyside every year is a large-scale simulated incident, and this year the Safetyside organizers raised the level of professionalism with controllers and monitors throughout the incident to keep the action moving and to collect better information.

Work Weekends

As in previous years, there were four work weekends, with attendance in the 15-30 range, which was plenty. After years of hard work at Apache Passtures, it has gotten to the point where it doesn’t need a lot of people to get it ready for Flipside.


Load-in, the Saturday before Flipside when we ship all the event’s infrastructure out to the event site, was well attended. The layout of the warehouse’s loading bays and parking lot created a bottleneck that slowed things down somewhat, but we got the job done and can work around this next year.

Load-Out & Cleanup

Load-out and cleanup, when we return our infrastructure to the Warehouse and perform line sweeps of the land for final LNT, were not covered very well, with only about 10 people on LNT duties and about 40 more to load trucks; there was also a crew at the warehouse to unload trucks.