This year’s much anticipated event takes place from 2 pm – 11 pm on Saturday, September 17th!
Shifting from the downtown Broadway streetscape to the undeveloped former “pellet terminal” area north of Black River Lane, this new site reveals both the beauty and potential of Lorain’s Lake Erie and Black River waterfronts, providing a stunning natural backdrop for this year’s festivities. As always, the event promises unique art installations, food, fun, fire – and the much anticipated and signature burning of the FireFish with its parade and performance.
“With Broadway Avenue fully activated with so many exciting businesses, it makes sense for FireFish Arts to highlight the next downtown area ripe and ready for redevelopment, while also connecting back to those businesses and highlighting them as part of the festival” states Candice Pettigrew, FireFish Arts Operations and Marketing Manager.
Always FREE, the 2022 FireFish Festival opens at 2 pm with food trucks, a vendor market, art installations, and interactive art opportunities for visitors. Visitors are also encouraged to explore adjacent downtown Lorain’s many new bars, eateries, shops, and FireFish artist sites.
At the FireFish Festival site itself, visitors can also expect projections under the Bascule Bridge, pollinator sculptures near the new giant welcome to “Lorain” sign and the Marie Bonaminio Pollinator Garden, and all kinds of fun, art, and entertainment centered around the theme of the 2022 FireFish Festival: Fire, Rebirth, and our Connection to the Natural World.
The event headliner is the 59-year-old, internationally known Vermont-based Bread and Puppet Theater, performing its iconic “Domestic Resurrection Circus” at 4 pm. Believing that theater is a necessity like bread, Bread and Puppet brings its performance out into the streets to those who may otherwise not go to the theater.
Larger than life-size puppets, often on stilts, wear huge masks with expressive faces, singing, dancing, and playing music. Participation in this play includes 20 – 30 Bread and Puppet performers, puppets, and stilt walkers, as well as youth from the ACES program and others involved in FireFish Arts programming, all performing against the backdrop of the famous Bread and Puppet traveling bus and Lorain’s stunning waterfront.
According to Ryan Craycraft, FireFish Arts Community Art Manager, “an exciting part of this year’s FireFish Festival is enhanced opportunity for community involvement in making and planning almost every piece of the festival. We are proud that this year’s event was developed with community feedback, the FireFish Festival Artist Board, and the FireFish Board of Directors, and that building the entire festival continues to involve the community in broader and deeper ways.”
The Bread and Puppet performance is followed by interaction with troupe members that will hand out homemade bread made that day, as well as feature the sale of their art, posters, and books. Live bands, including Avon Lake native Ann E. DeChant Band, round out the festival programming, which also features glass-blowing demonstrations and other interactive activities.
A “Pied Piper” lead parade at dusk leads community members along with performers, puppeteers, musicians, fire performers, and drummers to the much anticipated and iconic annual James Levin FireFish Processional and Burning of the FireFish, taking place at sunset.
This year’s monstrous FireFish, built on-site during the week before the FireFish Festival, will embody elements of grotesque sculpture, characterized by fanciful and fantastic human and animal forms intertwined with foliage. Accompanied by flora and fauna in a ceremony of procession and performance on its phoenix-like journey of rebirth through fire, the FireFish becomes a decorative, fanciful, and fantastic caricature that represents the personal things that we would like to symbolically burn and release while looking toward new growth and the future of Lorain.
A celebration of music and dance will follow and continue until 11 pm.
Community art for the FireFish Festival is being created with the ACES community youth program, at Main Street Lorain First Friday Block Parties, and community pop-up events. A recent pop-up event at Broadway Mary’s, in downtown Lorain, launched “Lolita’s Garden” as a new location for one of FireFish Arts’ “Broadway in Bloom” murals.
The large-scale mural, designed by FireFish artist board member Carida Cira Diaz and painted by Diaz in collaboration with Ryan Craycraft, Maryah Sneed, Joshua Biber, and Joan Perch, inspires the creation of a smaller mural that event visitors can participate in the painting. The event also features the launch of many potted pollinator and vegetable garden and sculpture pots created by FireFish Artist Board member Joshua Biber. These mini-sculpture garden pots will serve as location markers for Broadway sites of FireFish Arts programming, community art, and FireFish Artist Board member businesses.
Upcoming “pop-up” community art-making sites will be posted on FireFish social media and the FireFish Festival website. Community members can also look forward to watching the FireFish Festival and FireFish itself come to life during the week preceding the FireFish Festival and will be invited to participate in workshops to help us create the festival.
A FireFish Festival “preview” will also take place on Saturday, September 2nd as part of the Main Street Lorain First Friday Block Party. Visitors to that event can experience “mini” FireFish Festival installations and activities from the 5th Street Alley adjacent to Speak of the Devil Cocktail Lounge and along Broadway Avenue from 5th to 7th Street.
The FireFish Festival is supported by grants, sponsorships, and the generous support of community members, businesses, and partners. These include the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Midwest Gig Fund, the Ohio Arts Council, the Fowler Family Foundation, the Nord Family Foundation, Nordson Corporation Foundation, the City of Lorain, the Lorain County Visitors Bureau, the Campana Family Foundation, Lorain County Community College, the Jack Bradley Family, the Norton Family, Lorain Rotary, Lorain Public Library, United Property Management, and Buckeye Community Bank.