Category Archives: PassFire

Pyrotechnics Guild International 2015

WHAT: Pyrotechnics Guild International 2015
WHEN: Sunday 9th to Friday 14th August 2015
WHY: It’s a pyrotechnics convention
THEME: “Wyoming Fireworks Showdown”
WHERE: Cam-Plex Multi Event Facility, Gillette, Wyoming

The guild was founded in 1969 by Max P Van der Horck who wanted to encourage the display of both public and private display fireworks to the masses. He also wanted the industry to remove the shroud of secrecy it is surrounded by and share the knowledge to those in power, like the political elite and the general public alike so that the use of fireworks was not lost forever. They need to ensure that safety is a priority and that the gathered energies of so many like-minded people actually get a voice and allow creativity to flow providing ideas and suggestions by the bucket load.

If you check back over time, it is surprising how often fireworks have been used around the globe but essentially, since the Americas were discovered, there have always been displays for one reason or another.

The guild has around 3500 members who range from the hobbyist all the way up to the hard-core technicians and everyone learns from one another.

The event is an opportunity for attendees to visit workshops and seminars on construction of pyrotechnics for everything from a little garden fountain all they way up to a huge 24 inch shell creation. There are classes for attendees to be certified as professional firers – the USA’s Display Operators Course DOC is equivalent to our BPA British Pyrotechnic Association certification. Safety briefings, how to make fireworks more environmentally friendly and everything in between.

There will be four display nights which are as follows:

Sunday 9th August 2015 Zambelli Fireworks Display and Passfire (a firework documentary from Jeremy and Jesse Veverka).

Tuesday 11th August 2015 Pyro FX Display and Casabella Fireworks.

Wednesday 12th August 2015 Hollywood Pyrotechnics.

Friday 14th August 2015 All Star Showcase – this is a composite display featuring cross company products.

Finale – To Be Announced.

Because this event appeals to a wide range of people from the young lad wanting to learn more for his chemistry test to the consummate professionals like the Zambellis, who are to fireworks what the Kennedy’s were to the US’s political history, there is something for everyone. During the writing of this blog, I had to check into some details about the Zambelli’s and checking out their photo gallery is awesome. They (as in one or other of the family members over the last century or so!) have met and in many cases fired for the last 9 presidents including as mentioned the Kennedy’s both Bush senior and junior, the Carters, the Reagan’s, the Pope, the Prime Minister and most of the heads of state across the world.

As there is entertainment on throughout for the children young and old alike, you need to be aware that absolutely NO outside food is permitted on the site due to the huge number of concessions about.

So, if you are connected to fireworks, whether in the industry as a firer or a retailer, this is just the ticket with days packed to the rafters with pyro. Collectors can pick up some unique ephemera and if you can’t resist getting involved (we know … a couple of days and you have to touch some!) there are lots of ‘volunteer’ opportunities as they set up mega strings of firecrackers (last event more than 3 million!) as ‘firing crew’ for one or other of the teams showcasing their abilities.

Previous visitors have said that this is a must do experience for anyone connected with pyro and it is a truly family orientated event. The organisers will even arrange accommodation for you and the family in a camper van (think Winnebago/Walter White rather than VW Camper/Scooby Doo).

Here’s a cool video below from the Grand Public Display shot by Wolverine Fireworks Display, Inc. at the 2014 Pyrotechnics Guild International held in Mason City, IA.

Wolverine PGI Grand Public Display 2014 from Veverka Bros. Productions on Vimeo.

We will naturally bring you images as soon as they are available and in the meantime have a boomtiful day.


PassFire In Spain

Spanish Rocket - #PassFire Visit Spain

Team PassFire arrived in Spain (Valencia) in time for the Las Fallas Festival. Whilst this is widely attended by Pyro Freaks from around the World including a group of British Pro-firers and enthusiasts over there on a mission, there are also tens of thousands of firework lovers all there to see the spectacle for themselves.

Love KNO3 #PassFire Visit Spain

The Las Fallas Festival is what can only be described as utter madness with fireworks! The beautiful City of Valencia plays host to this event which has been celebrated since some point in the Middle Ages (11th to 15th century) and was thought to have been created by the artisans who disposed of broken art works and any off cuts or unusable pieces of wood and other combustible materials and made them into dressed figures and set them alight to welcome the Spring Equinox.

Fallas #PassFire Visit Spain

The event essentially is 5 days and nights of partying and includes along with the plethora of fireworks and bonfires a great many religious, comedic and historical Ninots (puppets or dolls). The types of ninots are usually determined as a ‘theme’ and they are absolutely spectacular.

Mascleta #PassFire Visit Spain

The main event ‘La Mascaleta’ is a barrage of fireworks and firecrackers which are fired at 2:00pm daily and the best of these is then selected to provide the finale ‘mascaleta of the fiesta’.

Mascleta Model #PassFire Visit Spain

The origin of the word ‘Mascaleta’ is from the latin for masculine (not unsurprising with big boys toys!) and Fallas is derived from the latin for torch so essentially Las Fallas Mascaleta translates as The Torch Man!!

Salutes #PassFire Visit Spain

The next stop on their tour to bring the world of fireworks and its relevant customs together in one film takes the Veverka Brothers over to Portugal and we will of course keep you posted on their exploits. More pics of the #PassFire project on our flickr channel.

Star Roller #PassFire Visit Spain

Whilst in Spain, Jesse and the #Passfire team ran into a little bit of trouble… Here’s a short extract of an email from Jesse Veverka…

“On a final note, you might have also heard that we successfully chased down a few bag thieves in Spain who tried to rob our camera equipment. It’s a true story. We got the bags back and even handed one of the thieves over to the cops. What can I say, the production must always go on!”

Great news Jesse – Be Water My Friend 😀


PASSFIRE – The Adventure Continues

Here at Epic, we have been following the exploits and adventures of brothers Jesse and Jeremy Veverka from the USA, as they criss-cross the globe creating the biggest ‘fireworks’ documentary film ever made.

Their mission is to visit as many countries as possible to document their attitudes and the tradition/religious connotations towards fireworks as possible. The journey started in January 2013 and will continue (funding permitting) until they have visited as many countries as possible for their film and documentary series about pyrotechnics.

In late March, the team left Spain for the sunny shores of Portugal for the next leg of the adventure. Portugal has a long firework history and just love their motor rockets and smaller salutes called ‘bombettes’. The motor rockets are loaded with effects and reach an incredible 200m altitude.

Years ago, the Portuguese, like the ancient Chinese used bamboo type canes and packed them with black powder and chemical stars filled them with effects and then reinforced them with wire resulting in no two of them ever being exactly the same. They also have some unusual and frankly dangerous looking beasties called ‘strong battery’ or BF which unlike a display shell have multiple effects slowly released as they are not under pressure in the loose wrapping resulting in a large but not widespread explosion or spread.

As the second week of April looms large, the Passfire team left Portugal for the beautiful shores of Italy to see their traditional ‘cannister shells’ and ‘ring stars’.

The Italians, of course, are credited with adding the colour and effects to the Art of Pyrotechnics way back in the fourteenth century and of the 60 or so firework specialists around in Europe at the time, the majority of them were Italian descendants.

Around the World, the production of fireworks depends heavily on the burst charge but each country has their own raw material to make it with. Over in China, for example, they use the rice husk (the outer casing on the grain – a bit like wheat bran) in Mexico, they use the cotton seed husk but in Italy, as they are known mainly for grape production for wine, they use cork. It is lightweight, robust and absorbent. They also create star rings rather than individual stars which makes the resultant burst more precise. The rings are then stacked into the tube and the middle packed with burst charge.

Off then to the next destination – Greece. Whilst the Greeks had little influence on the history of fireworks, they have been using them widely in their religious festivals, particularly the Christian history of Greece and its Isles. One of these events is the annual Rouketopolemos or Rocket battle in Chios where two opposing churches fire rockets across the town in an attempt to hit the bell in the tower of the opposite church. All very dramatic and more than a little dangerous and the Veverkas’ certainly had their work cut out filming at the event but they got some great footage and even managed to be interviewed by Greek TV about their visit and film production. Having been a visitor myself to Greece (Zakynthos) in the past at the same time as a similar festival a few years ago, these events whilst dramatic are definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Next stop – Malta

Check out our blog post next month to see what the brothers have been up to on the next leg of the Passfire journey.