Convention Overview

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.

Getting There

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 area.


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.

Convention Program

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.

Trade Show

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 the program.

Art Show

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.

Kids Programs

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.

Nightly Displays

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.

Supply Vending

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 aerial shells.


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 usually successful.

Business Meetings

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 Grand Master.


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 was needed.

Site Selection

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.

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