September 27, 2022

NASCAR, Iowa Speedway onboard to collaborate and offer sizable venue space

Newton submits proposal to host pyrotechnics convention

The City of Newton submitted its proposal last week to host an international pyrotechnics convention at the Iowa Speedway in 2022, which councilperson Randy Ervin says could bolster up to $3.5 million of economic impact to the city and surrounding communities in Jasper County.

In May, Ervin announced Newton could be in the running to host Pyrotechnics Guild International’s (PGI) annual convention. The event regularly draws more than 1,200 members and their families for week-long celebration of pyrotechnics and fireworks. Public nights are also available for non-members to attend.

According to a copy of the proposal acquired by Newton News, the city touted its proximity to the Des Moines metro area and Des Moines International Airport among its selling points. Newton is also a community whose stakeholders “welcome new events and support public entertainment opportunities.”

Particularly those targeted to families with children, the proposal stated. The public nights would offer family-friendly activities for a general admission fee. Other than those three nights, Ervin said, it is a convention for members only. Fireworks will be shot but none will be sold to the general public.

“We believe the festivities surrounding PGI’s 2022 convention are perfectly suited for our community and we are very excited to invite your members to ‘Get to Know Newton’ as we present three fabulous public pyrotechnics shows at our most renowned venue, Iowa Speedway,” the city said in its proposal.

Iowa Speedway’s capabilities to hold more than 25,000 spectators makes it an ideal location for the PGI Convention. The venue also has a full-size concert stage, hard surface and mature turf parking, space for on-site campus and “all of the properly distanced open area” for pyrotechnics testing and displays.

Other buildings may be more suitable for classroom training, pyrotechnics design and building workshops, the proposal stated. Owned by National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc., the racetrack’s on-site, regional and executive staff “have been very supportive of Newton’s bid” to host PGI’s 2022 convention.

In its proposal, the City of Newton stated either itself and/or a community non-profit organization acting on behalf of the city agrees to defray the cost of three public pyrotechnic events totaling $90,000. This sum will be paid in advance to PGI. The public nights would take place Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

The city — which said it has experience with large community events, such as RAGBRAI and the annual Newton Fest — has also agreed to cover the costs of marketing, ticketing and event planning for the public nights, with collaboration from both Iowa Speedway and NASCAR.

How food, beverage and hospitality services will be provided dying public pyrotechnics events are still in negotiations, the city said. However, the city assured PGI that the organization and its members will still be able to conduct their private functions without additional costs.

Newton will also be responsible for public event spectator and inclement weather insurance, traffic control, providing fire and safety equipment and personnel, ticket validation and security. If chosen, the city expects the members and their families will no only enjoy the convention but the community as well.

“To say that our business community and tourism industry is looking forward with enthusiasm to this week-long festival in our hometown would be a huge understatement,” the city said in its proposal, anticipating the economic impact from the PGI convention will be “significant” to the city and county.

Organizers proposed the convention could be held July 30-Aug. 6 in 2022.

Acknowledging the convention is earlier than typical PGI conventions, the city said the proposed dates are one week in advance “of two of the most significant spectator events in Iowa: the Iowa State Fair and the Knoxville Nationals.”

Newton said this would guarantee almost no competition for discretionary entertainment spending during the three pyrotechnic events, which, if the city’s proposed dates are accepted, would be July 31, Aug. 3, 5. Of course, before PGI would consider Newton as the 2022 host city, it must meet certain requirements.

One of which is to have adequate hotel rooms for visiting members. According to the city’s proposal, there are 800 hotel rooms within 15 miles and an additional 300 rooms within 25 miles. Newton and Iowa Speedway will designate 300 on-site campsites at the venue strictly for use by PGI members.

Some challenges the convention may encounter is an aerial agricultural spraying operation based at the Newton Airport’s fixed base operator, which is west of Iowa Speedway. The operation will need to be accommodated during the daytime hours since July and August is its busiest time of the year.

Supporting the city’s proposal is Newton Mayor Mike Hansen, Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Price, Newton Development Corporation Associate Director Tanya Michener and Newton Main Street Executive Director Erin Yeager.

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.