Vinton Boomtown reaches 10-year milestone

Massive fireworks festival is Friday and Saturday in Benton County

Fireworks explode over the Benton County Fairgrounds during the 2015 Vinton Boomtown. The annual event takes place in August, and organizers say this year’s will be bigger than ever. (Photo courtesy of Dan Engledow, Vinton Boomtown Committee)
Fireworks explode over the Benton County Fairgrounds during the 2015 Vinton Boomtown. The annual event takes place in August, and organizers say this year’s will be bigger than ever. (Photo courtesy of Dan Engledow, Vinton Boomtown Committee)

VINTON — One small Benton County town is gearing up for an event organizers claim is the largest of its kind in Iowa.

The 10th annual Vinton Boomtown blasts off Friday and Saturday in an end-of-summer event and fireworks display hosted by the Iowa Pyrotechnic Association, a regional club of fireworks enthusiasts.

Chuck Yedlik, IPA president, says his group is celebrating its first decade by putting on “the biggest show we’ve ever had.”

The big show is set to go off around 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Benton County Fairgrounds, 1700 Second Ave., Vinton. The event takes place rain or shine.

Before the big blast, two days of activities are planned, including an opening night party, 5-kilometer run on Saturday morning, live music, inflatables for kids and a Boomfest on Fourth Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday featuring more than 80 vendors.

Organizers say the grand finale fireworks show is one of the best around, and Yedlik promises those who attend a unique experience.

“You will not see anything like it in the state of Iowa,” he said. “It’s the most fireworks shot anywhere in the state of Iowa, I’m sure of that. In regards to our volume of product put out, it is by far the biggest.”

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Tamara Stark, co-chairwoman of the planning committee, said officials never expected the annual show to become as popular as it has. Last year, an estimated 6,500 people gathered at the fairgrounds and another 3,000 were estimated to have gathered outside the fairgrounds to view the show.

“Vinton on that Saturday is just one big party,” Stark said.

The first Vinton Boomtown took place in August 2007, but a similar event existed for years at the IPA annual member picnic on Yedlik’s farm near Brandon, a small town about 13 miles from Vinton.

The picnic eventually became too big for its location, so Yedlik said he approached the city of Vinton and other organizations in 2006 about the possibility of creating an event on the fairgrounds.

Now, IPA — which has about 400 members — spends several months of the year planning the annual show, coordinating 45 minutes of music and large visual displays.

Yedlik said members strive each year to make “big leaps” in the show quality, which is funded each year through Boomtown proceeds.

“What money we take in ... we burn it,” Yedlik said. “As the crowd grows and we have more money, we burn more of it.”

Gates open Saturday at 3 p.m. and organizers say there are plenty of fireworks set to be shot off before the big show at 9:30 p.m.

IPA members are participating in a “President’s Challenge,” a contest to show off their best homemade fireworks before the main display.

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In addition, a show from the Junior Pyros — IPA members 18 years old and younger — is scheduled for around 8:30 p.m.

“Some of the junior shows are better than what some small towns have on the Fourth of July,” said Dan Engledow, co-chairman of the planning committee.

Aside from the spectacular fire in the sky, Stark said the event is called “Boomtown” for a reason.

“It’s so loud, it’s been known to set off car alarms,” she said. Officials said ear plugs are for sale at the festival grounds.

Yedlik isn’t tipping his hat as to what, specifically, is planned this year, but he did have this to say:

“There’s going to be several surprises.”

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