September 27, 2022

Councilperson Ervin says event could draw $3.5M in economic impact to city and county

Newton potential host city for 2022 pyrotechnics convention

Newton could be in the running to host a major fireworks convention in 2022, which city councilman Randy Ervin said would draw 1,200-1,300 members and their families to town for one week and bolster $2.5 to $3.5 million of economic impact to the city and surrounding county.

Ervin told fellow council members during their May 17 meeting that other cities across the country — and in the state — are also applying to host the 2022 Pyrotechnics Guild International (PGI) Convention. The guild has organized conventions since its establishment in 1969.

“It’s exciting,” Ervin said. “The thought that we could host something this large in Newton should be a hats off to everybody involved. It’s been a long process to this point. All we have at this point is an opportunity to apply.”

With Iowa Speedway serving as a potential venue site, Newton met many of the guild’s hosting qualifications, such as: traffic management plans, public safety help, a minimum of 800 hotel rooms in close proximity to the site, additional campgrounds and an airport, among other things.

However, PGI also recommends “local political support” from the city and surrounding area to host the convention. Ervin — a vocal proponent of fireworks and pyrotechnics, even before he was elected — said a resolution of support will be submitted to council in June.

“It’s something the whole town can wrap their hands around. It’s something our retailers should be excited about,” he said. “It’s something the city … should be very proud of — an opportunity to host something on a national level, with both national and international people coming to this event.”

PGI is an independent worldwide nonprofit comprised of both amateur and professional fireworks and pyrotechnics enthusiasts. The organization desires to promote safe and responsible fireworks use, as well the production and sale of high quality pyrotechnics.

In addition, PGI encourages the display of public and private fireworks in conjunction with local and national holidays, and channels “the creative energies of talented people into the design, production and display of high quality fireworks” through its membership and “sharing of knowledge.”

Ervin said the convention — which regularly holds pyrotechnics competitions — is largely reserved for PGI members; however, the event does allow for a number of “public nights,” which can feature a number of family-friendly activities. General admission fees would still apply.

“Other than those three nights it is strictly a convention for the PGI members only,” Ervin said. “There will be a lot of shooting going on. But there is absolutely no fireworks sales to general public. There is absolutely no shooting of fireworks by the general public. But there will be several competitions.”

Apart from the resolutions of support from local governments, what Ervin and his group need to do now to submit their application to PGI is develop a contract with the Iowa Speedway and work out some other small details.

“I just think it’s going to be great not just for the city but for Jasper County as a whole,” Ervin said.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.