Dateline-Gillette, WY.

For those readers who could not attend PGI’s Fire Fest ’08, you missed out on another spectacular convention. Once again, the convention organizers produced an amazingly wide range of topical daytime seminars and educational workshops and demonstrations, and also provided the attending members and the community of Gillette, Wyoming, with extraordinary series of evening fireworks competitions and displays.

The daytime seminars and workshops were expertly led by various skilled professionals; everything from Micki McDanal’s Proximate Pyrotechnics in Performance Venues—a step-by-step detailed tutorial of producing proximate displays on the water, on a rooftop or, for example, inside a performing arts center, to Pyrotechnic Choreography-Controlling The Burn, an engaging discussion about how to do more with less by fireworks whiz, John Sagaria.

The various fireworks competitions are an opportunity for PGI members to share their imagination and craftsmanship with us with, oftentimes, awesome results; in fact, many of these fireworks shells are truly one-of-a-kind, making the reality of seeing them in person even more special.

Special mention is due to Aaron Enzer, ACE Pyro and the Michigan Pyrotechnics Arts Guild for providing the PGI with displays for the entire week, including Friday Night’s Grand Display. Sunday’s first display was presented by Tennessee Pyrotechnics from Paris, Tennessee; it was followed by a tribute display produced by ACE Pyro and the MPAG. The third, and last, display of the evening was also produced by ACE Pyro.

Wednesday night’s competition and public displays continued the PGI tradition of exceeding expectations. Both of the public displays were produced by ACE Pyro; the first display was designed by Jon Nash, and the second display that was choreographed by Drew Esplanade incorporated color flame projectors. The evening’s competition was also highlighted by several 16” shells that were pyrotechnic masterpieces.

Friday evening included long-standing PGI favorites—the Super String and the Mega String—as well as two additional public displays. The first public display was, again, produced by ACE Pyro and Pyromania Fireworks, and it was designed and choreographed by Rich Clark. The second display was choreographed by Aaron Enzer of ACE Pyro; and it was a truly exhilarating production highlighted by two 24” shells; however, as explained below only one was fired during the display and the other followed afterwards. The musical selections for the Grand Display was highly eclectic, from Hank Williams to the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show; at one point, I was ready to have Floyd cut my hair before driving on to Pilot City (just kidding). While the first 24” shell seemingly exploded upon leaving the mortar tube, the second 24” shell that was fired alone several minutes after the end of the Grand Display was a magnificent monster in terms of trajectory, composition and beauty.

While Gillette’s Cam-Plex offers an ideal layout, and the local attendance was seemingly record-breaking, more than one PGI member was heard grumbling about hotel gouging, and the lack of diversions and good food. The fact that I ate all my dinners at the Chophouse, and nowhere else, likely includes me a part of this group. In any event, the PGI moves on to Iowa for next year’s convention. For those readers who could not attend this year’s convention, you missed out on things never to be repeated; but, then again, next year’s convention is also likely to be another once-in-a-lifetime experience and, perhaps fittingly, that it what the PGI Convention is all about.

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