Laurel Highlands performance group adds flames to pack crowds for fun shows
Hula hoops have been around for centuries. But throw in some music, acrobatic skills and just a pinch of pyrotechnics, and you've got a combination that can mesmerize kids and adults alike.
A group of friends from the Laurel Highlands has turned that recipe into a popular performance group whose Fire 'n' Flow Shows attract big crowds.
The half-dozen regulars who make up Flow N'at — a nod to the group's Pittsburgh-region roots — have seen their hooping hobby grow from backyard boredom buster to main event in just a few years.
The addition of the fire elements to their homemade hoops has boosted the group's entertainment appeal.
“We all played around with it, and whenever we'd be hanging out together, we'd do it,” Becky Seigh, one of the group's original members, said of implementing flames into the equation. “But actually performing in front of people, that's been like the last three years. It just kind of happened.
“It was the community that actually made it happen,” she said of the group's surge in popularity. “Friends, family, friends of family, everything like that, everyone supporting us and coming to our shows and spreading the word.”
With contacts in numerous local bands, Flow N'at is seldom short on live accompaniment for its free-form performances.
“We support the local bands,” Seigh said. “We have jam bands a lot. We have electronic music that comes in once in a while, a little bit of bluegrass. We try to have everything.”
The group has formed a symbiotic relationship with Ligonier Beach Restaurant and Lounge. The popular outdoor pool, bar and restaurant along Route 30 near Ligonier provides free performance space, and Flow N'at provides a big boost in attendance.
Ligonier Beach owner and manager Sherri Kozar said the group's last performance, a Cinco de Mayo-themed show in May, brought a big bump in revenue for the business.
“They probably brought around 170, definitely over 150 people,” Kozar said. “I may have really only had 20 or 30 if it wouldn't have been for people staying. Then once more cars are in the parking lot, it seems like everybody wants to stop to see what's going on.”
The group has shows scheduled at Ligonier Beach each month throughout the summer and early fall, and each performance has its own theme.
The show coming up Saturday, for example, is billed as a Fire 'n' Flow Circus Show, and the July 13 show will have a luau theme.
“Every party is actually a theme now,” Seigh said. “It's getting the community involved. We encourage costumes.”
The group also strives to attract a varied fan base to its events.
“Grandparents the whole way down to little kids,” group member Billie Jo Miller said of the typical Flow N'at crowd.
“We do a lot of drum circles (at the end of our shows), so it's all improvised, made up right on the spot,” Miller added. “That's the beauty of it. It gets everybody else involved, too. It's not just us doing something. If you can't hula hoop, you can sit there and play drums, grab a tambourine.”
In addition to the monthly shows at Ligonier Beach, the group performs at private events and benefit shows and hosts hooping workshops at area festivals.
The group uses its official Flow N'at Facebook page to interact with fans and keep people posted about future events.
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or firstname.lastname@example.org.