Well, it's official, the 2015 PGI convention will be in Gillette once again:
The Elms Newspaper
The spectacular fireworks displays that light up the skies at the Pyrotechnics Guild International’s yearly conventions will return to Gillette in August 2015.
PGI told Cam-plex on Friday morning that it won the bid to host the convention, beating out the other top competitors of Fargo, N.D., and La Porte, Ind.
It comes after PGI told Cam-plex it would never return to Gillette after members complained about expensive hotel rooms and guaranteed lower rates that had not been honored when the convention last came to town in 2008 while Gillette was in the middle of a boom and housing was in short supply.
Cam-plex worked closely with Campbell County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Mary Silvernell to prove to PGI members that things have changed. Silvernell helped secure 560 rooms at rates from $59-$149 for PGI members when they come.
Cam-plex general manager Larry Gaffey said the marketing team had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get the bid, but it worked hard to get it done.
Marketing manager Sandra Bott and marketing coordinator Barbara Steele-Stugart, “put all their fear aside and went after this convention,” Gaffey said. “We were told that they would never come back to Gillette, and they got it done.
“I’m really proud of them, and the community should be proud of them, too,” he added.
PGI president Dan Creagan said members like Cam-plex because it is the “ideal pyro location.” The group has plenty of room to spread out and set off its displays.
“The other reason we’re coming back was that it seemed like there was a huge interest in getting us to Gillette,” Creagan said. “The people at Cam-plex went out of their way to put together an appealing proposal. It was just too good to refuse.”
They’ll be in town for a week starting Aug. 8, with three nights of displays.
The fireworks convention is one of the most popular events at Cam-plex. Gillette has hosted the event three times — in 1998, 2003 and 2008 — and each time, families plan reunions around the event, officials have said.
When PGI last came to Gillette in 2008, 7,000 people from outside Campbell County attended the convention, according to Cam-plex records. About 26,000 people visited the grounds when the convention was in town.
Cam-plex expects those numbers to increase significantly in 2015, and Creagan said PGI hopes to attract about 2,000 members to the event.
Gaffey said Cam-plex wants to create a festival environment during the days the convention is in town, which will include local vendors and free live music daily, with a headlining act that has yet to be determined.
That way, those attending the event can enjoy a festival during the day and then stay to watch the pyrotechnic displays at night.
The activities all will be free to PGI members and open to the public for a fee.
Gaffey said Cam-plex is considering offering three-day passes for the public to get into the events, with the incentive of free dry camping sites if you buy the package.
People who want to camp with hook-ups are welcome, but will have to pay.
“We’ll be promoting this outside of the Gillette area,” he said.
The convention brings more than three nights of stunning fireworks to Gillette. It also brings in money.
Gaffey said the economic impact this convention will have on Campbell County is a multi-million dollar one.
“Every restaurant and hotel and retailer in town will benefit from this,” he said. “From East Side Laundry to Walmart, they’re all going to feel an impact.”
He added that service clubs in town also will benefit from the convention because Cam-plex will hire them to work parking, ticketing and other jobs in order to host the convention.
“It’s a big, big deal for Gillette and Campbell County,” Gaffey said. “We’re just really happy we were able to put it together.”