Ever since it was prehistoric man's main deterrent against sabertooth cats and -- as cartoons teach us -- dinosaurs, burning things has been an integral component of communal gatherings.
Maybe we just get a thrill out of destroying things when we're not busy destroying each other, or maybe we're just afraid of the dark. Either way, a fire is excuse enough for most people to hang out.
For example, at my first Mainx24 Southside block party in 2010, hundreds of people gathered in the bitter cold to cheer on the Burning Man-style immolation of Andrew Nigh's wooden sculpture, "Vega Chrysalis." The blaze was a suitably dramatic capstone to the celebration of one of the city's most vibrant neighborhoods and popular enough to warrant a second sculpture burn last year.
Mainx24 returns Saturday with more than 100 events spread along Main Street from Dodds Avenue to Chestnut Street. Nigh isn't offering up another statue in artistic sacrifice this time, but there are plenty of other events to get excited about.
* Enjoy a lard-fried doughnut at Link 41, 215 E. Main St., from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Eat one early because you'll probably want to walk off the calories.
* Join a team with three of your friends and live out your dream of being a champion tricyclist in the Big Wheel Championship, an adult-size race on the three-wheeled plastic toys at 405 E. Main St. from 1 to 3 p.m. The $80 registration benefits the Children's Advocacy Center of Hamilton County. The glory, should you win, is all yours.
* Come see the baristas at The Camp House, 1427 Williams St., compete for the most beautiful pour in a juried Latte Art Competition from 4 to 6 p.m. Stick around afterward for the second King of the Southside battle of the bands. The event lasts until midnight, and the winner will walk away with $300 and an opening slot at next year's Southern Brewers Festival.
* While I personally don't need a fire to enjoy Mainx24, those aching for some pryotechnics can pop a squat by the fireside and drink discounted Big River beer at The Crash Pad, 29 Johnson St., from 10 a.m. to midnight.
That's just scratching the surface. There also will be Collective Clothing's annual Mainx24 fashion show at the Choo Choo, a free concert with Summer Dregs and Shark Week at 122 W. Main St. and, of course, the Main Event at Track 29, featuring Knoxville's The Dirty Guv'nahs.
For a full schedule, visit Mainx24.com.
Contact Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @Phillips CTFP.