Pyrotechnics Guild International – Annual Fireworks Convention

West Fargo, North Dakota.

In 1999, I was introduced to what is the largest pyrotechnics displays I’ve ever seen. The story goes all the way back to 1969, however, when a group of fireworks aficionados founded Pyrotechnics Guild International, commonly known as PGI. In 1973, the group held their first convention in Grand Haven, Michigan. The convention is open to members where they can attend classes, participate in a trade show, learn the latest in fireworks safety, or have their creations in visual and physical arts exhibited and judged. The highlight of the convention for the general public, though, is the display that is open to non-members several nights during the week or so of the convention which was held this year in Mason City, Iowa in August.

Since first coming to West Fargo in 1999, the convention has been held in my neck of the woods eight times. It was last here in 2017. I planned to publish this post a few weeks after the convention but somehow I lost track of the fact that I had only published but one photo that found its way to a Cellpic Sunday on August 13, 2017 where you’ll find I featured the opening shot of this post. Those first years, Lynn and I would park in the neighborhood and watch the fireworks that launched overhead thus saving the cost of admission. It turned out to be false economy as the best part of the show takes place at lower altitudes only viewable from the grandstand. When PGI comes to your part of the country, spend the few bucks for admission, if you are a fireworks fan, you’ll be glad you did.

On that Friday night finale we viewed four presentations including three performances set to music. The program started just after 9:30 PM and concluded just after 11:00 PM, during which, except for short breaks between presenters, the sky was filled with pyrotechnics. At some point, we learned that we might be watching the very last visit of PGI to West Fargo. Future construction plans for the Red River Valley Fairgrounds are likely to impede the safe operation of such a large fireworks display. That was disappointing news.

Next year, PGI moves to Cheyenne, Wyoming. That’s really not too far. Maybe we will be in the neighborhood during our summer travels and we can take in one of their shows again. To find out more about PGI, you can visit their website here. The gallery of images below are but a few I captured with my cell phone that mid-August evening in 2017. It is best viewed on a dark background which, in most browsers, you will find if you click on an image to enlarge it. From there, you can scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner


  1. Gorgeous pics!!! I haven’t thought about the PGI in a long time, in retrospect, I wish I would’ve gone to see these, instead of just admiring from afar. How unfortunate the expansion is chasing the PGI out, you’d think that it would be a cash cow that they’d accommodate. Apparently not. D’oh!

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