In 2014, the Pyrotechincs Guild International (PGI) returned to the heartland of America in Mason City, Iowa for its annual gathering of over 3,000 members. In addition to the members who attended, tens of thousands of spectators also attended the evening displays during the course of the 7-day event.
Regardless of whether you were a member or a spectator, everyone who attended the convention was treated to a myriad of amazing displays. First, there were the Sunday night kickoff displays by Flashing Thunder Fireworks and the Iowa Pyrotechnics Association. Then, Tuesday’s audience had the privilege of seeing incredible displays created by two other pyrotechnic clubs: Bluegrass Pyros and Iowa Pyros. Wednesday’s lineup included shows from J&M Displays, A.M. Displays and the JPA. (The JPA, or Junior Pyrotechnicians Association, is an adult supervised youth organization that teaches young fireworks enthusiasts the proper safety and setup of consumer fireworks displays).
Friday night, as usual, drew the largest crowd, and attendees were rewarded this year with epic displays from three expert groups: The All Stars, an elite club of firework builders who built much of their products for their displays onsite during the convention; The Northern Lights Pyrotechnics Club, who fired a very technical display this year using a massive front of single shots and special effects; and Wolverine, who shot the “Grand Public Display” to close out the week. It was rumored that Wolverine—who completely overwhelmed the audience during their finale—literally filled the sky using 100 10-inch shells and 60-ft. lighting poles they used with their mines and comets.
Overall, it was a great week for displays, and the weather couldn’t have been more cooperative. Rainless conventions are always the best, and that keeps everyone in a better mood. But the PGI convention is not just about displays. There is also a large trade shows at the PGI convention where a slew of vendors come in and set up booths to show off and sell their products. PGI members can basically buy almost anything at these trade shows, from simple souvenirs to sophisticated firing systems and equipment. Members can also buy fireworks in the vending area and PGI provides an open shooting area to safely set them off. Each convention also hosts a large juried art show displaying fireworks-related artwork done by members or their spouses or children. There are also a wide variety of seminars members can attend on subjects from pyromusical choreography to current regulations. In addition, certification classes are offered for those wishing to become licensed pyrotechnicians.
Nightly competitions between members who wish to show off their skills at making rockets, ball and cylinder shells, comets and/or mines are very popular. These competitions include everyone’s ultimate favorite: the Girandola. These huge, spinning marvels are meticulously constructed during each convention, and are always amazing to watch when they launch.
In short, the PGI’s annual convention is a “must attend” event that every fireworks enthusiast should have on their bucket list. It draws fireworks hobbyists and professionals from all over the world, and is probably the best way to build new, long-term friendships as well as important business relationships. For more information about the PGI and the upcoming annual 2015 convention, or just how to become a member, visit www.pgi.org.