What is "The Convention"
Because the annual PGI Convention has become such a dominant part
of the whole PGI experience, it's a good idea to be as prepared as you
can be for your first Convention. The conventions have increased in
scope over the years and it now can be difficult to take in everything
in which you may be interested. Understanding something of the events
and planning for them will be effort well spent. If you don't prepare
there's a chance you'll miss something you found out too late was
important to you. The Convention starts on a Saturday or Sunday the
second week of August. It begins with a large display show on Sunday
evening as the kickoff event. It concludes on Friday night with what is
called the Grand Public Display. More on this later.
The PGI Bulletin will publish locations and directions. You might want to contact the local Chamber of Commerce
for additional information on the area. It's wise to shop for motels.
The Bulletin will have a list of hotels and will identify the host hotel
if there is one. Many sites have all facilities in one place eliminating
the need for a host hotel. If you plan to fly and rent a car it's wise
to have early reservations. The planes fill-up at the most popular
arrival and departure times. If you brought material to be shot during
the Convention you'll want to immediately find the magazine for safe
storage of your material until it's needed. Just ask at the registration
To avoid higher cost for late registration you will want to
pre-register. Then, when you arrive at the Convention site, you'll just
pick up your envelope containing the final Convention schedule, your
tickets, and items relative to the Convention. Convention fee is usually
around $150. Wear your badge at all times.
Hotels will be some distance from the shoot site for obvious
reasons. That's why it's a good idea to learn the area on your own. No
scheduled transportation is provided. You are on your own to get back
and forth to hotels. Ride sharing works well. Camping facilities are
also identified in the PGI Bulletin, and the PGI has a Coordinator. Look
in the Bulletin for additional information. RV's and tenting have been
very popular. At some sites the camp is right on the Convention site.
Many technical seminars and classes will be scheduled during the
week. Where the participant is building a shell or other work as part of
the course, there may be a small fee for materials. The item built is
then shot by the builder. These classes have been very popular and can
be oversubscribed. Lectures and video graphics are also included. The
presenters are most often Members who have advanced skills and are
recognized for their capabilities. There is a lot of "how to"
involved. Constructions techniques and tooling are often a subject. A
PGI Volunteer schedules the seminar programs and may be contacted at an
address listed in a pre-convention Bulletin. New and interesting
subjects are always being looked for.
A large room or a building is allocated for the sale of T-shirts,
tools, books, tubes, and memorabilia related to fireworks. Vendors pay
for table space to display their wares. Hours of operation are listed in
Members submit for exhibit and judging their creations in visual
and physical arts. The membership gets plenty of opportunity to view and
appreciate their neighbor's talents.
Because PGI is a family oriented organization the kids have fun
too. In the past there have been construction projects for the kids
during the day and then a chance for their constructions to be viewed
just before dusk. One particularly striking project was tying Chem-Lume
tubes to helium balloons and releasing a flight of them for all to see
them drift away.
During the week there are nightly displays of competitions for
judging of builder's shells, vendor's demonstrations, and displays of
many kinds. One event called "All Stars" is a display of the
work of top PGI shell builders. This is where the best of the best is
seen. Special effects and "surprises" are not uncommon. Anvil
shooting is an occasional event.
A designated area in a building or tent will be sectioned-off for
the sale of pyro supplies and components for members to build shells,
set pieces, and other pyrotechnic items.
Class C Vending and Open Shooting
A large room, building, or tent is stocked with goodies by many
vendors. Usually the C vending is adjacent to a shooting area where
anything you buy may be shot under safe conditions. Usually, an open
field has been designated with areas for ignition of different types of
Class C material.
Class B Open Shooting
Mortars will have been dug in for open shooting and safety
barriers put in place. The subject of time for open shooting is being
addressed as this is written. The plan is to better organize so there is
plenty of time to shoot what you brought. Also, there will be a safe
location for ground salutes. Rockets will have a space separate from the
Members can compete to be judged under rules for many categories
of display. These can be aerial shells, ground displays, proximate
shows, class C extravaganzas, etc. Check your program for details.
During the week, after shooting is over, there is a possibility
of a social snack and drink get together. It is called the afterglow.
The Convention Committee tries to get sponsors for this event. They are
Two business meetings will be conducted, one early in the week
and the other on Thursday. Conduct of the Guild's business is the
subject. Voting for Officers will also be conducted during the week.
Here is your chance to help steer our Guild.
Safety, Security, Fire, Medical
PGI has organized to provide safe conventions. All this is
staffed by volunteers. You'll see orange vests worn by Members who have
volunteered for these important functions. The committees have
coordinated with local medical, law enforcement, fire protection, and
traffic control personnel in the Community. As a PGI Member you are in
good hands at the Convention.
Each year there is an auction conducted to determine who will
light the Superstring and Megastring. Describing these two displays,
which open the Friday Night Public Display, takes more space than
available here. Just ask any of the old timers for the history and fun
of these unique and Guinness record-grade displays.
On Friday afternoon there is the Annual Banquet. This is where
awards for the competitors are made. It is a fun occasion with a buffet
dinner preceded by a social hour. Everyone wants to know who will be the
Everyone you see working to put on the Convention is a PGI
Volunteer. You will have many opportunities to help out. In recent years
a Coordinator has been assigned to help pair-off needed help with
willing persons. In any case, the registration desk can help steer you.
Just go where work is being done and say can I help? Cleanup crews on
Saturday can always use help. Return home knowing you did part of what
During the week, presentations to the Board of Directors are made
by groups hoping to host the Convention in future years. You are welcome
at these presentations and it gives you a chance to scout where upcoming
sites will be. You will quickly realize how difficult it is to meet the
unique requirements that a PGI Convention presents for a Community.