An event about five years in the making will soon light up the skies with a "Boom and a Blast" as the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau presents the 2013 Pyrotechnics Guild International Convention.
"We're pretty much ready to go. Everything's pretty well planned out," Jack Cohen, president of the bureau, said Thursday.
More than 2,000 PGI members are bringing their annual convention to Cooper's Lake Campground, 205 Currie Road, Worth Township, with a dazzling array of events planned for Aug. 10 through 16, including four nights of shows open to the public; a number of events are for PGI members only.
"It's one-of-a-kind. There's nobody who doesn't like fireworks," Cohen said, adding he's excited to see one display that goes a half-mile up in the air and 3,000 feet across.
And to help convince PGI to hold the convention in this area, Cohen became a member of the guild about five years ago, quickly learning it takes that much time to ensure the host site is the right place for the largest fireworks display in the country, if not the world.
"They're booking for 2017 now," he said.
PGI takes into consideration factors like safety issues, campsites, hotels, restaurants and local health, medical, fire, police and emergency services.
They've also touched base with PennDOT for help with traffic control and agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Department of Homeland Security since they'll be dealing with serious explosives, Cohen said.
He's confident the convention will be a can't-miss experience that visitors won't forget, and this area is the right choice, especially since some of the shows will include fireworks from local companies like Zambelli Fireworks and Pyrotecnico, both in New Castle.
"Lawrence County is the fireworks capital of the world," Cohen said.
A PGI spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
A full list of events can be found online, but some of the highlights include: convention activities like seminars and safety training for PGI members only; and four nights of displays for the public on Aug. 11, 13, 14 and 16.
Each night will feature several full-length fireworks displays showcasing the latest innovations starting at 8:30 p.m., with one show lasting more than an hour. A different show will be held each evening.
Parking lots and gates open at 4 p.m., when a special pre-show celebration with live entertainment, food vendors and more will start the fun. PGI members will set off consumer-style fireworks and rockets during the entertainment, which includes three live acts each night.
Aug. 11 includes: a patriotic display; Albert Knoblach's Little Big Shots as seen on the Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs;" Zambelli's display; and a competition among PGI members who have created their own fireworks.
Aug. 13 includes: Harrison Unger of Kentucky and his "Victory March;" the Tour de Force's display of pyrotechnic rockets; and Fire Art from Clearfield, Pa., with music and firework choreography by award-winning Peter Rogoz.
Aug. 14 includes: a display created entirely by the Junior Pyrotechnics Association members, ages 7 through 17; a display by Celebration Fireworks and PA Pyrotechnics Artists; and Pyrotecnico's display.
Aug. 16 includes: a number of displays set to music, including one form Bixler Pyrotechnics, Ashland, Pa.; and the closing display by John Sagaria's Fireworks Extravaganza.
Shows sell out fast, so order tickets early. Entry fees are $35 per carload (up to six people per car) or $40 at the gate; that includes musical performances and other pre-show entertainment. For more information, call 866-856-8444.
Tickets can also be purchased at www.visitbutlercounty.com/pgi
All shows are weather permitting. Rain dates are: Aug. 11 will move to Aug. 12; the Aug. 13 or 14 shows will move to Aug. 15; Aug. 16 will move to Aug. 17. If Aug. 17 is rained out, it will not be rescheduled.
Published July 27, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.
Parking banned on nearby roads
Rubberneckers hoping for a free look at an upcoming fireworks show can expect traffic citations if they park along nearby state roads or Interstate 79 to watch the display.
State police in Butler say in a news release they're concerned about traffic safety and potential problems during the fireworks convention set for Aug. 10-16 at Coopers Lake Campground, near Slippery Rock.
Motorists should not stop in the roadway to watch the fireworks in Worth Township, Butler County, the release said.
"We also remind motorists not to stop along the roadway of a limited access highway to view the display," trooper Dan Kesten said. "Troopers will be vigilant in efforts to cite drivers for violations of traffic laws in the area including those that pertain to stopping on or along a roadway in the (campground) area."
State police expect the large number of visitors to cause traffic delays and temporary traffic patterns on U.S. Route 422 and I-79 because of the convention.