Fireworks organizers say 2019 best one ever

Living Skies Come Alive:

August 12, 2019, 9:03 am
Kevin Weedmark

Nicole Rodriguez, left, Maui Catacutan, middle, Micaella Gonzales and Miguel Rodriguez, right, doing a Filipino dance at Moosomin Regional Park as part of the Filipino entertainment during the Living Skies Come Alive fireworks weekend on the August long weekend. With the Philippines being represented in the fireworks competition on the Sunday night, the local Filipino community used it as a chance to share their culture. Turn to pages 8-11 for more photos of the weekend.

Organizers say the 2019 Living Skies Come Alive International Fireworks Competition was the best ever. “Every other year has been great, but this was sensational,” says Laurie Renneberg.

“I kept hearing about how great the Filipino show was going to be. My expectations were very high after having supper with the two competitors and hearing that this was going to blow China out of the water. I thought it can’t be that good, but when I actually saw the show I was like ‘Oh my.’ It was just amazing. It was just so good. Everything from start to finish went well. It was just like a well-oiled machine. Everything went perfectly. The Philippines fireworks were world-class. Patrice (Guy) said himself that would be a show that he would show at Montreal, for example, and you could see that. All the comments afterwards have been that the weekend was so good.”

All the numbers aren’t in yet, but organizers are thinking about 4,500 people were through the gates Saturday night and 6,500 to 7,000 on Sunday night.

Many of those are already thinking about coming again next year. “I’ve had people asking already if they can book for next year, and saying what a fantastic weekend it was. It was very heartwarming to hear the positive comments from everyone,” said Renneberg. “One person said they had just been to Disneyland, and the show the Philippines shot was way better than what Disneyland shot at their evening performance.

“I got the impression that the Philippines competitor, Patrice Guy, is quite the perfectionist,” Renneberg adds. “Visiting with some of the workers, they were saying that Patrice checked every single piece of equipment to make sure that every angle was exactly right, and they were just amazed.”

“I think it’s amazing that we’ve had this calibre of show. It’s just evolved, you can’t say it was planned to develop into what it has,” adds organizer Layne McFarlane.

“It started with five guys on a beach one year,” said Renneberg. “A few of them said let’s buy some, and it went from there. It started so small, and it just grew and grew. We had supper on Thursday with Patrice (the Philippine competitor) and Peter (the Canadian competitor) and they were explaining they really think of it as a competition. They know they have a budget, but ultimately they want to win, so they always spend more than what they’re supposed to, and they don’t make any money at these competitions, it’s more bragging rights to say that they won it.”

“We’re fortunate with the venue,” McFarlane added. “Mother Nature has always been very good to us. This year we had a rain come through Saturday afternoon that dampened things up a bit but didn’t hurt anything, and it cleared off and everything went ahead.

Filipino community involvement
“The multicultural aspect was really unique this year,” said fellow organizer Layne McFarlane. “Our local Filipino community had a show on Sunday afternoon that I went down to see. Great show, highlighting their culture and their community. The Esterhazy Filipino community had the food booth and we appreciate them taking part. I was so pleased we were able to have an event that highlighted a different culture. We had the Lion Dance when China did the fireworks a couple of years ago, but this was more unique because it was the local Filipino community putting it on. That gave a great flavor to our fireworks competition. It was about more than just seeing the fireworks.”

The fireworks attracted people from across southern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba.

“With this type of competition, given that we’ve had it for a number of years, we have to broaden our base for people to come, and they are driving from Regina, they are driving from Estevan, they’re driving from Brandon,” said McFarlane.

The entertainment was well-received.

“Our entertainment was just amazing,” said Renneberg. “The Firm is an amazing up-and-coming band. We had them on from 5 to 10 o’clock, but everyone liked them so much we had them go on again after the fireworks.

“We try to focus on the fireworks as the core of the event, and then we try to build activities around that to make it a full weekend,” said McFarlane. “Everyone seems to enjoy all the activities.

“One of the activities that was very popular was the axe throwing.”

“I saw it in Yorkton, and I approached the guy and asked if they go to events and he said for sure,” said Renneberg. “Then I told him about our event, and he had actually been a previous worker with one of the Regina teams, when the competition was between Saskatchewan and Manitoba. He was more than willing to come out to Moosomin, and Celebration Ford sponsored it, which was awesome. It was so well received, Celebration Ford sponsored it again for a second day, and they came out for a second day.

“I was talking to him Saturday, making arrangements for them to come out the second day, and he was saying he wanted to come out anyway to see the Filipino show—he was excited to see it.”

Weekend was profitable
Organizers don’t have all the financial information together for the fireworks weekend yet, but they know it was a profitable weekend.

“We know we made money, we’re just not sure exactly how much we made yet,” said McFarlane.

“We’ve got a great committee, and everyone has their respective areas to work on. Over time, we’ve been able to establish procedures that make us more efficient and user-friendly to everyone who comes to see the fireworks.

“I was talking to Keith Donald, who was visiting a couple of days before the fireworks, and he said, if we would have had this number of people early on, it would have been a complete flop because we wouldn’t have known how to handle them. But, because it’s grown gradually, we’ve developed procedures and structures to be able to accommodate this number of people in an efficient manner. It has evolved and it’s really fantastic the way it’s grown.”

“It’s great for the park and it’s great for the community because if we can make money we can improve our facilites,” said Renneberg.”

Any profit from the event goes back to Moosomin Regional Park, and that money is currently being used to pay down the cost of a new water treatment plant for the park.

“There was a loan at the end of December. There’s $180,000 owing on the water plant. It would be nice to make a lump sum payment and knock it down,” says Renneberg.

“The total cost of the water plant was $630,000 and to date we’ve raised over $400,000 through this event that has gone toward the water treatment plant for the park. We can’t thank everyone enough for their support. Without the water treatment plant, we wouldn’t be able to have our park. It’s a necessity that we have had to fundraise to keep the park going.

“We have local people who come to support it and we have families that get together at the park and that’s their family weekend. You will see large groups, 10-15 people who use it as their family getaway.”

“It provides a weekend for people who want to have a family get-together to have an activity around it, and it provides an opportunity,” said McFarlane. “After the fireworks were over, on Monday and Tuesday, there were little groups of campers still sitting there that had stayed an extra day or two.”

He said he hopes the impact of the weekend helps the local business community. “Certainly the hotels, Fieldstone campground, the restaurants, the grocery stores see some more business because we have all those people here. It’s wonderful to have all those people coming into our community. If we can help make all those businesses money, that’s great.”

“It doesn’t just benefit the park, it’s the entire community,” says Renneberg.

The fireworks committee is hosting a volunteer barbecue to thank all the volunteers who helped out with this year’s fireworks weekend. The barbecue will be held at the circle, with drinks at 5 pm and supper at 6 pm for anyone who volunteered.


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