LAPORTE | A weeklong fireworks show could be the biggest event at the LaPorte County Fairgrounds since efforts began to lure major attractions.
Pyrotechnics Guild International will have its annual conference and show dubbed "Fire in the Sky" on Aug. 11 through 17.
LaPorte County Fair manager Gene Shurte said the shows last roughly 45 minutes each night and are unlike any municipal fireworks displays.
He said the Pyrotechnics Guild International shows are like a traditional grand finale but for the entire show.
"The sky is going to be lit up in LaPorte the whole night," Shurte said.
Shurte said as many as 75,000 people could turn out for the four public fireworks shows.
LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau executive director Jack Arnett said turnout could be much higher.
He said shows the past two years in North Dakota and Wyoming drew 200,000 people, and being so close to Chicago similar numbers could be attained in LaPorte.
Arnett said hotel rooms have been getting booked for the event the past six months.
"It could be huge. There's all kind of potential here," Arnett said.
Shurte said, "It's going to draw a major number of people who will provide an economic shot in the arm."
The Pyrotechnics Guild International Inc., founded in 1969, is an independent worldwide nonprofit organization of amateur and professional fireworks enthusiasts.
Promoting safe and responsible use of pyrotechnics and fireworks is among its goals.
Shurte said the hope is for the guild to add the fairgrounds to its four-year rotation. According to the guild's website, the event is tentatively scheduled to return to LaPorte in August 2016.
The 2011 show was in West Fargo, N.D. The 2010 show was in Appleton, Wis.
Shurte said some of the time spent by the guild in LaPorte will not be open to the public. That time at the fairgrounds will be used to manufacture and teach others how to make safe fireworks and private shows.
The public firework shows are scheduled Aug. 12, 14, 15 and 17.
Tickets range from $10 to $20 and are available now at the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau office at Marquette Mall in Michigan City.
The first major event at the fairgrounds was in 2009 when a monster truck show attracted about 40,000 to 50,000 people over three days.
Seating for up to 20,000 people was added to the grandstands to accommodate larger attractions to help the local economy.
"We needed to extend the use of that facility the best we could," Arnett said. "The fair board is doing an outstanding job and taking it in the right direction."
For more information on the Pyrotechnics Guild International, visit its website at www.pgi.org.