Butler County will get a boost in tourism dollars, plus light shows in the sky, when it welcomes a five-day fireworks convention in 2013.
The Pyrotechnics Guild International Inc. announced this week it chose Slippery Rock for its annual gathering after looking for an East Coast location, said its spokesman, Dr. John Steinberg. The guild is a nonprofit group of firework aficionados.
The convention should bring $4 million to $5 million to the area, said Jack Cohen, executive director of the Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau.
Cooper's Lake Campground, a 500-care site that provides plenty of room for fireworks shows, will host the convention Aug. 12-16, 2013. Members of the guild will attend seminars and classes during the day, before the campground opens to the public for fireworks at night. The convention and shows usually attract about 100,000 people, Steinberg said.
"We haven't been east since 1995," Steinberg said. "The closest was Wisconsin. And two-thirds of our members live east of the Mississippi."
The guild last came to Pennsylvania in 1994, to New Castle, dubbed the Fireworks Capital of America.
The campground won't need any major changes or renovations because it hosts similar large events. The Pennsic Wars — re-enactments of medieval battles — start July 25 and bring some 10,000 people.
Cohen attended last year's guild convention in Wyoming and said he was floored by the fireworks displays there.
"As far as your eyes can see, your field of vision, from ground to as high as you can see and right and left ... It's going to be a blast, literally."
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