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North Hills Monthly

Pyrofest to Take Place Memorial Day Weekend

Apr 30, 2015 02:40PM ● By Hilary Daninhirsch
If you’re from Pittsburgh, you know that fireworks aren’t reserved just for the Fourth of July. But did you know that America’s largest fireworks festival is right in our own backyard?

This May 22 and 23, the fourth annual PyroFest will be held at Cooper’s Lake Campground in Butler County. A breathtaking feast for the senses, PyroFest is rapidly becoming a uniquely Pittsburgh way to kick off the summer season.

Organized by Peony Entertainment along with Pyrotecnico, the two-day festival will feature 10 spectacular, kaleidoscopic fireworks displays, both in the daytime and the evening, along with live entertainment, children’s activities and concessions. Musical guests will include B.E. Taylor, Nomad and more.  

Festivalgoers have increased in number from 4,000 the first year to 10,000 last year. To accommodate the growing crowds, festival organizers have moved the venue from Hartwood Acres to Cooper’s Lake, which offers easier access to I-79 plus onsite parking. Visitors have the option to camp on the grounds or just bring lawn chairs or picnic blankets for a full day of activities.

“It is a unique, one-of-its-kind thing in this country,” said Derek Weber, executive director, Peony Entertainment, who added that Canada, and other countries in Europe and Asia, have fireworks competitions and festivals, but that fireworks are often shown just to cap off another event here in the U.S.  

Festivalgoers from previous years will be happy to see the return of Voyage through the Universe, a spectacular show featuring the Beatles and other classic rock music that was displayed during the festival’s first year and is back by popular demand. Several new shows will debut for the first time at this year’s PyroFest, including one by famed Ricardo Caballer Ricasa from Spain. “He is renowned in the industry; he has produced multiple displays for the Olympics,” said Weber.  

A daytime military tribute to the national anthem is another highlight of this year’s show, which will tie in with Memorial Day weekend. Veterans and current troops can also enter a drawing to win an all-expense paid weekend to Nemacolin Woodlands.

Pyro enthusiasts were also given the opportunity to enter the ‘Fantasy in the Sky’ contest, an online competition that ended April 12. “Individuals were asked to go on to the website and create a fireworks show on the computer; a simulated show that could be put to music,” explained Weber. The runner-up will see their 10-minute show put on display on Friday night, while the winner’s show will be presented on Saturday night.

Like a complex dance, the fireworks are carefully choreographed; in fact, it takes about a year or so to plan the festival, according to Weber. While most people will be focused on the fireworks, other unique aspects of the festival include multiple firing areas, as well as different international techniques that aren’t seen at typical township fireworks shows.

Tickets to Pyrofest can be purchased in advance or at the door. For more information, and to see videos of previous years’ displays, visit