A convention to be held in Joplin will be a blast for area residents as well as participants.
Three public fireworks shows will be put on when the National Fireworks Association gathers for its annual meeting and expo today through Saturday, Sept. 8.
“The NFA Expo is not like the typical convention we host in Joplin,” said Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Most of their key activities are after dark and the public is invited to watch.”
One of those key events will be a three-hour choreographed fireworks show set for Saturday night at the former Joplin 66 Speedway at 13th Street and Black Cat Road. Public shows also will be held on Thursday and Friday at the speedway.
Joplin has worked for several years to bring the convention and expo to town. The NFA is the second largest pyrotechnic organization in the country, involving about 700 members, Tuttle said.
It brings buyers and sellers together to learn new rules and regulations of the industry and to see new products, both retail and professional classifications.
“The members are able to see new products that will be introduced into the marketplace for next year from China without having to make an overseas trip to the manufacturing sites; this allows for a tremendous savings to our American dealers,” said Nancy Blogin, the organization’s executive secretary, in a news release.
Displays open to the public will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“The old speedway on the west side of Joplin has not been in use since 2006,” Tuttle said in a news release. “Local work crews made up of NFA members and volunteers from Daybreak Rotary have worked hard to clean up the abandoned grandstands and track area so the grounds are safe for the Expo exhibitors and membership and the general public.”
In exchange for the work, the Rotary Club will be allowed to collect admission fees. Admission will be $5 per carload on Thursday and $10 on Friday and Saturday nights. Snacks and drinks will be sold by the Joplin Lion’s Club.
Members of the public are asked to use the 13th Street entrance. Viewing will be allowed from the east parking lot and the east side of the grandstand.
The display on Thursday night will be of retail fireworks that are sold to the public. “The Saturday night event will be more of the high aerial fireworks the public will enjoy,” said Blogin in the news release.
“The final night is three hours of what we normally would enjoy for 20 to 30 minutes during Independence Day,” Tuttle said in his statement. “This will be a crowd pleaser and exciting for any fireworks enthusiast.”
Tuttle said the convention was held last year in Steven’s Point, Wis., and the displays drew large crowds each night.
Registration and a welcome reception for the convention will be held Tuesday.
Seminars start on Wednesday, including a U.S. Department of Transportation training class, and a question-and-answer session with an agent from the Division of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Jacob Marietta of Jake’s World Class Fireworks, based in Pittsburg, Kan., will lead a seminar on retail layout. There also will be a seminar on starting a fireworks business.
Sessions on Thursday will include an update on Department of Transportation regulations, marketing and advertising, inventory management, and advances in computer choreography.
Topics at Friday sessions will include fireworks accidents. The trade show opens Friday and runs through Saturday.
Seminars and the trade show take place at the Holiday Inn Convention Center.