" A long time ago in a field far, far away... It is a period of legislative war. Rebel displayers, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Anti-Fireworks Empire. During the display, Rebel firers managed to fight the Empire's ultimate new weapon, an armoured petition capable of destroying an entire industry, with over £4000 of fireworks fired in a thirty minute blast with no accidents, no injuries and no complaints... "

The seed for this saga was planted when Starsky had a "northern" fireworks bash, getting together with other UKFR members through our forum to have a private fireworks party. Many members made it, many couldn't, so UKFR member Gerry tentatively suggested having a "southern" get together. What started as a suggestion turned into an avalanche of interest with dozens of members pledging their attendance - and their pyro.

After what seemed like years of planning and thousands of forum posts, the date was settled, the venue was confirmed (a remote location in deepest Dorset) and travel arrangements made. The event had been christened with the official title of GIDFF - Great International Dorset Fireworks Fest.

With our Millennium Falcon in for servicing, we had to take a more conventional method of transport and a long and tiring trip down the M6 via Tony's saw us arrive on the Saturday. Some members had arrived the night before, and many more members arrived during that afternoon.

Gerry's was already a hive of activity. How fantastic to put names to faces for the first time, and how incredible to see an already HUGE pile of pyro swell even more with each new arrival.

Just one corner of the firework assembly area. Note the Minster mines - plenty of poke in this display!

Jobs were delegated to willing members - catering, waterproofing, setting up and so on. After a quick sort through the pyro, a plan of sorts was hatched for the display. Gerry would start with some single items for review. After an intermission for some grub, the display itself would follow, led by Gerry and Andy "Red Leader" P, with offers of help from Salute (one of our US members who flew over from the states to join the fun!), Tim, Stillsy, Adam and Starsky.

Click on an image to see it enlarged.

Out on the display area, the true scope of this venue as the ultimate fireworks location dawned on us. Sweeping gentle hills devoid of animals and structures, perfect fall out zones, and few local residents (all were invited). However a reminder from Mother Nature that it was February - a biting cold wind.

Chris (far left), PeteB, Andy P and Hornblower (middle) and Tim (right) unpacking and assembling pyro. The two large timber poles would carry the pigeon.

You'd think our members had known each other for years - in truth they had, through the forum - from the way they worked together to turn a massive arsenal into a viable display. Rows of fireworks were staked out, poles and timber were hammered into the ground, and even waterfall, wheel and pigeon set-pieces were constructed.

Click on an image to see it enlarged.

By dusk the firing area was criss-crossed with fireworks, and the last few members were arriving - all with more pyro. Last minute items were set up before a welcome retreat to Gerry's unbelievable hospitality for some much needed - and appreciated - food. And for those not firing, some ale (except for PeteB, who was wearing his amazing coat with inbuilt bar!).

And then it began. Even the single review items seemed fantastic - Planet's Wild Blue Ocean and Thunder Peony, and Shellscape's Electric Palms taking the cheers before the assembled jury and bank of clicking and whirring cameras.

After a quick break for some food the display "proper" started...

The first section consisted of some VERY nice mine sequences and strobes to get the show started.

All credit to the volunteer firers for finding their way around the pyro and giving order to the chaos. A great strobe sequence with some mines opened the show, before the pace was upped with more powerful Minsters.

Strobes and fountain start mines, a powerful Minster, and more pretty effects to ease the show gently towards critical mass.

There followed what seemed like a relentless onslaught of some of the finest display fireworks money can buy, with intermissions from some entertaining set-pieces. Enjoy the show in picture form below:

A blue and screeching Minster mine.

Airbomb mines light up the firers.

Green and red effects.

The finale was amazing.

The finale when it came was the most impressive barrage of display fireworks I have even seen - before or after. It left us all stunned, and proud to have been there to see it. Check out the video clips below and see for yourself.

Finale section: Recommended download Last section in full screen, DivX AVI. 25.7Mb. Right click link and "save target as".
Finale section: Last section in Windows Media format for dial-up users. Please note that the intense action causes some drop of frame rates at times. 2.7Mb. Right click link and "save target as".
Highlights only: Highlights of the whole display in Windows Media format for dial-up users. Please note that the intense action causes some drop of frame rates at times. 12.6Mb. Warning: Drunken banter and some swearing on the soundtrack. Right click link and "save target as".
Complete Display: The whole display (27 minutes long). Due to the potential file size of this clip, we have only been able to offer this in Windows Media (lower quality) format. Image quality is average to good but please note that the intense action causes some drop of frame rates at times. This clip is only recommended for those on fast internet connections. 67.4Mb. Warning: Drunken banter and some swearing on the soundtrack. Right click link and "save target as".
Daytime footage: Video of the firing area, some setting up, and a curious explosion ;-) Windows Media format. 2.4Mb. Right click link and "save target as".

What a night. Every member without exception had enjoyed a brilliant event which was far more than the stunning pyro. To be able to meet people with similar interests was a fundamental step forward from the "virtual" world of the forum. There have been plenty of meetings since, from the friendships forged through that night and the continuing growth of our community here. But for me, Dorset Episode One rates as the pinnacle of my time with UKFR - providing the catalyst and medium for members to network and meet.

The single, biggest credit and thanks goes to one man who turned an idea into a legend - and then a saga of three meetings (to date): Gerry. It took an incredible leap of faith, trust and vision to conceive, plan and then hold such a radical idea together. And, I hope, our members have done him proud and justified his faith in them. Not a single injury or accident, not a single problem. Just the start of many, many friendships.

A toast to Dorset Episode One (entitled "GIDFF" - Great International Dorset Fireworks Fest - by attendees) and to Gerry, and the proof that sensible and enjoyable use of pyro does indeed exist.

The morning after.

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©2004 UK Firework Review