FireFish Festival 2016!

Despite the rain, sparks flew again!

A walk down Broadway Avenue became a delightful and unexpected journey of sizzling art, music and impromptu dance performances between the cloudbursts.  Lit up storefronts full of art, sound and installation  by regional artists became backup stages for comedy, spoken word, and more.

Performances on Black River Lanw nestled in alleyways, on fire escapes, and even in an abandoned parking garage. Local food and beverage vendors, regional artists and artisans, and an array of family friendly activities, including an interactive extravagant recyclyed welded drum installation by local artist Falcon Eddie, rounded out the festivities on Black River Landing.

There, at precisely the time the FireFish was set to burn on the river, the rain stopped.  A herculean effort ensued to “Fire the Fish,” fueled by tenacity, torches, and pyrotechnics that culminated  in an inspired lighting under the full moon, just breaking through the clouds.

Festival highlights included the Sammy De Leon Orchestra, sound artists Jeremy Bible’s audio installation in the Palace Theatre and Ki Rodriguez’ installation in the adjacent Eagles Building storefront, aerial artists Jasmine Dragons, video artist Kevin Jackson and Grammy winning pianist Angelin Chang in a unique collaboration, the Great Lakes Light Operas, and local blues singer Kristine Jackson.The Journey of the FireFish and Processional  fish-parade

The Procession of the FireFish

The creation and “transformation” of the FireFish traces a journey that reflects much of the power and sense of collaboration that has infused our Festival. The Fish was designed by master puppeteer Dan McNamara who also served as the resident artist at FireFish’s STEAM youth Academy.  The Academy teen apprentices, under the direction of Monica Idom, built and paraded the fish through the Festival Village in the early evening with support from artists Ian Petroni and Sky Davison. They were also accompanied in the procession by teens from the PACE Foundation, and led by the beat drummer Baba Jabal, and dancer Brittany Drost. Live performances created a dusk extravaganza, as fire-eaters, belly dancers and fire jugglers made their way to the river.

The FireFish Finale the-fish-burns

As fire artist/performers captivated audiences near the banks of the Black River, The FireFish (caught in one surprise cloudburst and quite soggy) was transported by Mihalic Maintenance, expert transporters and logistic experts, to Grumpy’s Bait Shop (the launch area on the Black River where our barge had been graciously stored for several days) allowing the delivery to King Fishery. Under the deft naval savvy of Captain Ken, our FireFish was escorted from there to the Black River Landing through the rain, where it met the Loco ‘Yaks,  who were themselves awaiting the flame.  Through a herculean effort led by the kayakers  and Ohio Burn Unit’s Schuyler White,  the ultimate fiery “transformation” of the FireFish was accomplished, just as the clouds broke and the full moon emerged.
With significant assistance from the Lorain Fire Department, the Lorain Port Authority and the United States Coast Guard, this fire will  hopefully engage and inspire the transformation of the once great City of Lorain into a new era of art and creativity.
Creators of the FIREFISH FESTIVAL Koi Centerpiece are: The FireFish STEAM Academy –  Myesha Arnold, Christian Billings, Briana Boggs, Chakyia Chaney, Jacintaya Cuellar, Aaron McHenry, Shanija Mourer, Mia McNemar, Jos’Lyn Nobel, Allison Otero, Destiny Ramos, Brian Suarez-Herrera, Ryan Williams; Master Builders: Daniel McNamara, Ian Petroni; Koi Fish Artistic Design: John (Sky) Davison; Artistic Development Strategist: Monica D. Idom; Soniqua Morries: STEAM Academy administrative coordinator: Volunteers: Arthur Schwandt, Jessica Songer. 


We truly appreciate the support of our sponsors, partners, volunteers, and friends — all who attended the festival, the artists and performers who gave so much, and each and every member of our community that helped make the 2016 FireFish Festival a blazing success.



Look for sparks to fly again next September! With the support of our partners, sponsors, friends and community, we hope to again be able to light up downtown Lorain’ with sizzling fire and arts performances  set against the stunning backdrop of water and sky.  Look for art and live performances to lead the way into another new evening dusk extravaganza, where fire-eaters and fire jugglers will light the way to the dancing fire and torches, culminating in the “Firing of the FireFish!”

Photos courtesy Ron Jantz





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