FireFish Arts

FireFish Arts

Building a vibrant arts & culture community in downtown Lorain.

FireFish Festival 2023

Programs & Events 2023

FireFish Festival Sponsorship

Get Involved

FireFish Festival 2023

Saturday, September 16th

FireFish Arts is pleased to announce that the 2023 annual FireFish Festival will take place this year on Saturday, September 16th. Serving as the culmination and celebration of all FireFish Art’s programs, this always FREE event once again promises unique art installations, music, food, fun, fire – and the much anticipated and signature burning of the FireFish with its parade, pageantry, and performance.

“We were excited to add some new elements in the 2022 FireFish Festival that engaged more community members, and we look to grow those at this year’s event. Look for even more opportunities in 2023 for youth and community members to make art for the festival and to participate in the festival parade,” according to Candice Pettigrew Ruckman Operations & Marketing Director.

Additional year-round programming leads to the much-anticipated annual festival, and features arts programming with the Lorain community and local youth at our monthly “Fire It Up!” Broadway Block Parties on the first Fridays this summer. All this programming includes  Lorain and Lorain County visual artists and performers, with the support of the FireFish Arts Advisory Board. “While the FireFish Festival is the annual celebration of all of the work of FireFish Arts, the actual work of FireFish takes place year-round, bringing together Lorain artists, youth, and community members,” states Artistic Director Joan Perch.

All FireFish Arts programs are designed to bring outstanding arts programs and events to Lorain in partnership with Lorain community businesses, arts and creative partners, and the City of Lorain. “Our goal is to work within the community to utilize the power of the arts to transform lives and to transform this community,” says Board President Frank DeTillio. “It is becoming more and more understood that through creative placemaking, the arts and economic and civic development go hand-in-hand.”

Programs & Events 2023

The First Annual Spring FireFish Arts Benefit Event

ArtSong II

Friday, April 21, 2023

You will not want to miss this immersive “once in a lifetime” concert event pairing Grammy award-winning classical pianist Angelin Chang with video projection artist Kevin Jackson. Creating a spellbinding “duet” of two very different art forms, this very special performance merges classical piano with contemporary digital projection mapping art.

Dr. Chang is not only the head of the keyboard studies program at Cleveland State University; she is also a world-class performing artist and music educator with a Grammy to her credit, performing across the globe and serving as the first artist in residence at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Kevin Jackson’s expertise as a visual media artist has evolved from the early years of audio/video to a profound interest in combining Video Projection Mapping Technology and obscure imagery to create dynamic visuals across the globe. A Cleveland native, Jackson has participated in Cleveland and Buffalo film projects winning multiple awards including best editing and best film.

Purchase tickets here:
Watch a video from the first ArtSong here!

The Eighth Annual FireFish Festival

Fire in the Sky: Transcending Dark & Light

Saturday, September 16, 2023

This FREE annual themed festival takes place every September around the time of the full moon, serving as the culmination and celebration of all FireFish Art’s programs. As always, the event promises unique art installations, music, food, fun, fire – and the much anticipated and signature burning of the FireFish with its parade and performance. With the theme of Transcending Dark and Light, artists, youth, and community members explore the history, and engage with and interpret the duality and yin/yang nature of darkness and light.

NEW THIS YEARa youth, community, and artist-created Lantern Parade! Our annual “Pied Piper-like” dusk parade is growing! This year it will feature a parade of lanterns created by youth, community members, and artists, alongside musicians, fire performers, and drummers, leading to the much anticipated Burning of the FireFish, taking place at sunset. Lantern workshops for all ages will take place throughout the summer in Lorain.

FireFish Festival Community Art Making – FireFish Finale Artist/Artistic Director Danny McNamara will arrive a week before the FireFish Festival, designing and building the FireFish with artists, youth, and community members.

Community Arts, Local Artists, & Public Art

The Alley Project: Broadway’s Back Door

Summer 2023

Drawing from previous successful pop-up events, the Alley Project: Broadway’s Back Door creates a permanent art alley between 5th and 6th street. The Alley Project includes a mural designed by local artist Bob Peck with AR/VR elements created in collaboration with students at Lorain County Community College and the installation of several temporary murals designed by Ryan Craycraft, Jeff Pye, and ACES youth program participants. Funding for this project has been provided by a GM on Main Street grant.

Fire It Up Fridays! @ The Alley Project

First Friday of the month June through September from 5 – 10 pm

June 2, July 7, Aug 4; Sept 1st is the FireFish Festival Preview Night

FireFish Arts continues its programming history in the newly energized “Alley Project.” Serving as a downtown “after party” following Main Street Lorain’s First Friday events these HOT monthly events feature fire performances by Ohio Burn Unit, visual art, comedy, projections, and music. Events will include live artmaking,  pop-up markets, and performances  – including those by local talent and local community youth performers.

Artist & Maker Programs

Artist Programming Advisory Board Launch Event

May 2023

FireFish Arts recognizes the important work of artists within the Lorain community. We work to support local artists as paid professionals in many ways, including as members of the Artist Programming Advisory Board; through paid arts/performing opportunities and opportunities to work with youth and community members; as event vendors; and by offering quarterly artist networking/education events. Our new Artist Programming Advisory Board will begin their important work in May 2023.

Maker Mondays @ the Lorain Public Library Make Space

Mondays: June 12th, July 17th, August 18th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Design and create a lantern using traditional art techniques and new maker space technologies. Lanterns will then become a part of the new FireFish Festival Lantern Parade that will be held this September 16th.  This workshop is for artists and adults.

Art Maker on the Move!

August 2023

Lorain County Community College’s Art Maker on the Move program brings the LCCC mobile Fab Cab maker space and staff expertise directly to artists intending to introduce artists to digital fabrication technology-based art and art using hybrid technologies. Artist and Fab Lab coordinator Ryan Corrigan will provide two workshops for selected artists, providing them with the tools and skills to create a lit/lantern installation for the FireFish Festival. A Call to Artists will be distributed in May 2023.

Creating Festival Art with Artist in Residence Ian Petroni

August through September 2023

Ian Petroni is a multi-disciplinary artist in Cleveland, Ohio who works as a designer and builder for theater, festivals, and public spaces. Always seeking to serve the circumstances while presenting something unexpected and challenging, he hopes to inspire the imagination of the public. FireFish Arts have commissioned Mr. Petroni to create a lit sculpture for the September FireFish Festival. FireFish community artists will have to opportunity to assist and learn from Petroni as they create their works of art for the festival.

FireFish Artists Annual Winter Soiree

December 2023

This annual event brings together community artists and friends of FireFish for an engaging evening featuring a conversation with guest artists and a special end-of-year celebration.

Programs for Youth & Families

FireFish @ Art in the Park

Summer, 2023

Join FireFish Arts at these engaging hands-on youth and family arts events to create your own “make it – take it” lantern project. Help us create a giant lantern installation at the FireFish Festival with our FireFish artists! Activities take place in the City of Lorain Parks and are offered in collaboration with Lorain’s new Art in the Park Project, led by Gloria Buxton.

Wednesdays from 11 am – 2 pm

  • June 14th – Masks – Oakwood Park
  • June 21st – Blooming – Johnnie Wilson Park
  • June 28th – Summer of Transformation: Butterflies – Sargent Sam Felton Park
  • July 12th – Play – Lakeview Park
  • July 19th – Summer – G Street Park
  • August 9th – Exploration – Pawlawk Park

Lantern Making @The Lorain Public Library, Main Branch

Children’s Workshops

Thursday, June 22nd, and July 13th, and Saturday, August 5th at 1 pm

Create a lantern-themed “Make it- Take-it” lantern at the Lorain Public Library and help us create a giant lantern installation for the FireFish Festival connected to the summer reading theme, “All Together Now,” for one day a month from June – August.

Lantern Making @ the Little Library at Lakeview Park

Join us at these family-friendly workshops to create a lantern for yourself — and one for the new FireFish Festival Lantern Parade at the FireFish Festival. A FireFish Maker-In-Residence Ryan Craycraft will lead this project.

  • Tuesday, June 20 from 3 – 5 pm: Learn introductory techniques to construct a lantern/ lit sculpture.
  • Tuesday, June 27 from 3 – 5 pm: Experiment with color that reflects the themes of light and dark in pattern and design in lantern/light design.
  • Tuesday, July 11 from 3 – 5 pm: Create a hanging lantern.
  • Tuesday, July 18 from 3 – 5 pm: Create community art with us! Participate in the creation of a large-scale lantern installation for the FireFish Festival and learn more about the public art process.

Summer Saturdays at Lakeview Beach with FireFish

June 16 & July 15 from 2 – 4 pm

Join FireFish, library staff, and community partners to meet new friends, create memorable experiences, and explore fun and exciting activities with us. The Little Library on the Lake aims to enrich community connections by strengthening community awareness, cultivating relevant resources, and promoting equity and inclusion through partnerships.

Portrait of a City Project

May – September 2023

The Lorain: Portrait of a City project is an arts-based storytelling project about the history of Lorain, its’ people, and the community. Working alongside Lorain artists, teens, and college students create art that celebrates the spirit of Lorain and its diverse people.

  • Hometown Heroes – Building on several series of portraits created to celebrate Black, Latino, and women role models and leaders, teens from the ACES program research historical figures and paint portraits of local Lorain “heroes.” Facilitated by artist Jeff Pye, Start w/Art director.
  • Stories of Lorain – Working alongside Lorain artist Hiatt Hernon, teens from Lorain High School and Lorain County Community College explore old and new technologies to create a video portrait of their city. Hernon, whose latest project titled “Erie Days – A Temporal Gallery” was inspired by the cinematic curiosity of the 1920s ‘city symphony’ short films. Capturing the experimental spirit of early cameras using the go-pro camera technology of today, this work serves as a prototype that encourages youth to learn new techniques, experiment, and develop their video portraits of Lorain.

SPARKS! Exploring Dark & Light through the Arts, STEAM, & Literature

October 2023 – September 2025

SPARKS! launches on October 16 to celebrate the fall “ring of fire” solar eclipse, building toward the total eclipse of the sun, taking place on April 8, 2024. During that once-in-a-lifetime event, Lorain’s location in the path of totality will put the city in total darkness for almost 4 minutes, igniting excitement and interest in “exploring dark and light.”

In year two, SPARKS! further expands these themes of “Transcending Dark to Light” by exploring digital fabrication tools, literacy, literature, and creative expression across history, with a focus on notable Renaissance artists and scientists including Leonardo DaVinci and Copernicus.

Creative arts, nature, science, making, literature, and more converge in experiences that bring the cosmos and solar system to life for community youth in exciting and engaging new ways!

Youth Programming & SPARKS! Partners

Aces Youth Program, Art in the Park, Lorain County Public Library, Lorain County Community College, Lorain City Schools, the Lorain County Metroparks, El Centro/231 GO! Youth Program, Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Main Street Lorain, Start with Art, Lorain Palace Youth Theater, Mad Factory Youth Theatre, North Pointe Ballet, Rock Town Academy

FireFish Arts Mission

As a non-profit community-based arts organization, FireFish Arts works to revitalize the city of Lorain through arts based creative placemaking. We accomplish this by providing pioneering arts programming, community art access and outreach, and critical arts leadership. At the core of this effort is supporting the vital role artists play in their community.

FireFish Arts programs are made possible by the generous support of many individual, business, and corporate sponsors, foundations, and local and state government including the Ohio Arts Council, the City of Lorain, the Lorain County Commissioners, Nordson Corporation Foundation, the Nord Family Foundation, the Fowler Family Foundation and GM on Main Street.


FireFish Arts 2022 Sponsors

Get Involved

Food TruckFood Truck Vendor

Full Menu Vendors

Single Item Vendors
(i.e. ice cream, kettle corn)

Food Vendor Application

VendorArtisan/Crafter Vendors, Non-Profit Booth

Fee: $35

Booth Size: 10’ x 10’

We will only accept vendors that HANDCRAFT their products or create original pieces of artwork. Non-profits please use this application for your booth and list what will be at your booth.

Artisan Vendor Application

Performance ArtPerformance Art Application

Music, Theater, Dance, Flow, Busker, and Street Performances

Performer Application

VolunteerVolunteer Application

Join the community in creating the 2023 FireFish Festival experience! Sign up to volunteer here:

Volunteer at the FireFish Festival!

Help vendors and performers load in and out! Direct parking! Greet festival goers at the information table! Serve beverages! Keep the festival village clean!

Create FireFish Festival Art with Us!

The festival village will privately open to FireFish artists, students, and volunteers to create art for the festival on the Monday before the festival. Artists including Daniel McNamara the Artistic Director of the FireFish Finale, and many other local artists and community members are to work on-site throughout the week creating the FireFish and art for the festival.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring their artist tool kit along with work gloves, a hat, sunscreen, and a water bottle.

For more information or questions contact Candice Pettigrew at