Kim Poole took this photo at Living Skies Come Alive in 2016

Living Skies Come Alive goes international

May 18, 2017 1:33 pm
Kevin Weedmark

Every August long weekend, the skies come alive over Moosomin Lake. For the last several years the Living Skies Come Alive Fireworks Competition has pitted two fireworks companies against one another.
Each puts on their best show—one on Saturday night, one on Sunday night—and a panel of judges selects the winner.
The fireworks shows are unlike anything else on the Prairies. Timed to music, carefully choreographed, the fireworks shows are a different calibre than anything else on the Prairies.
The fireworks weekend has grown over the years, with thousands of people taking in the shows each night.
The competition will take on an international flavor for the first time this year, with Canada taking on China in the first international fireworks competition at Moosomin Lake.
The fireworks competition is planned for Saturday and Sunday, August 5 and 6 at Moosomin Regional Park. CanFire Pyrotechnics from Winnipeg will do the show Saturday night, and FireShow from China will do the show on Sunday night—a show that will include some fireworks that have never been seen before in Canada.

Taking it to the next level
Layne McFarlane and Laurie Renneberg of the fireworks committee at Moosomin Regional Park said they are happy with how the weekend has grown over the years, but they’re expecting this year’s fireworks shows to move the fireworks competition to the next level.
“Each year we try to improve it and make the show better and different, with the belief that if you leave it the same you lose the attractiveness,” said McFarlane. “Last year was the first year we brought in entertainment to fill in the interval between supper and when the fireworks start. We had Eli Barsi and Amy Nelson last year and this year it will be Stuck on Red on the Saturday and the Back 40 Drifters on Sunday night.”
Renneberg explains that CanFire Pyrotechnics of Winnipeg, a competitor in the Fireworks competition for the last several years, brought up the idea of bringing a competitor from China and offered to help with the logistics and government permission to get container loads of fireworks and the competitors from China to Moosomin Lake.
“I think it’s going to be a very different show,” she said. “Canfire says it will be unlike anything we have seen before. I think it is going to be phenomenal.”

Show an annual event for many
McFarlane says many people return to the fireworks competition year after year.
“One year I walked from camper to camper visiting with people, and the story I heard from person after person was that they came three or four years ago for the day and watched it, and have come back every year since. They enjoy the show, they enjoy the park, and they want to be here. They have a camper, they have friends with them under the canopy and they are just visiting and enjoying themselves.”
Renneberg said people come from a huge area to see the fireworks shows.
“They come from B.C., and from the States so it’s getting to be known out there,” Renneberg said. “Camping wise, people just used to come for four days, now they are coming for a week.”

Thousands of spectators
The event brings in between 6,000 and 7,000 people each year. Last year there was a paid attendance of 7,153 over the weekend, and the committee hopes the international angle will attract more people this year.
It takes a lot of work to put on the fireworks show, with 75-100 volunteers involved each night. “If anyone wants to volunteer even an hour or two, it certainly helps,” said Renneberg. “It doesn’t take much and it’s not hard work. Volunteers can sign up at a volunteer sheet at the store or call the park and give their name on the answering machine or to the staff.”
McFarlane says he hopes some people who have never seen the fireworks competition before take in this year’s shows.
“Moosomin Lake provides a unique opportunity to set the fireworks over the lake,” he said.
“You have the reflection of the water and the sound ricochets off the banks as the fireworks go off. It happens to be a great place to do it. It’s always been a great place to see fireworks, it’s always been a great weekend, and for anyone who hasn’t seen it before, this is the year to see it, with China coming.”
Renneberg says she expects the international component will attract more people.
“Even before they committed we had interest from people asking where they can get tickets,” she said. “It’s always been good, but it should be amazing this year.”

Chinese competitors
should step it up a notch
Peter Palmer of CanFire Pyrotechnics of Winnipeg has been competed in Living Skies Come Alive for several years, and helped arrange for his Chinese competitor to take part in Living Skies Come Alive this year.
“We have an office in China and we have gone to a lot of shows in China, where there are both international and regional shows,” he said.
“Liuyang is the hub of fireworks for the world. Michael Lee and Fireshow were doing a show that was a cut above the rest. They were pushing the envelope for their shows. For one show they were using eight aerial drones with fireworks. Their level of expertise is quite complex.”
He said a lot of work has gone into bringing the Chinese group to Canada for the fireworks competition.
“We have been working on it for months,” he said. “We have to get them Canadian visas. We made a contract and had to translate parts of contract into Chinese for them. With China anything is possible but nothing is easy.”
Palmer believes the fireworks this summer will be a level higher than last year.
“It’s definitely going to be going up a notch,” he said. “They are going to step it up. They are going to bring their A game and we are going to bring ours—we have to.
“In fireworks competitions you don’t get a second chance to repeat what you are doing. You only have one chance to get it right. That is part of the pressure for any competitor, us included.”
He said Fireshow will be bringing fireworks from China that have never before been seen in Canada.

Chinese company bringing
fireworks that are new to Canada
“Moosomin wanted something special this year for Canada 150, and this will be special. The products they are bringing from China will include some things people have never seen before in Canada,” Palmer said.
“I believe we are going to see a product they call ghost shells in the show which are not available in Canada.
“The ghost shell looks like it is revolving and is changing colors. It will change colors in a rotating motion as it expands and opens, creating the effect of 3D motion. There’s nothing like it—you really have to see it.
“Seeing the work that Fireshow does and their level of commitment and passion, I think they’re a good fit with what we want to see.
“They’re going to be a tough competitor, and whether we win or lose, the end winner is going to be the audience at Moosomin Regional Park.”