On Saturday April 26th 2008 three teams competed at the Woodman Pub in the St George Reloaded Fireworks Competition. Using no more than £500 of consumer fireworks each team had to put together a stunning display to music and impress not just the judges but a voting audience too. In this feature we take a look at the three teams plus a supporting cast of professional fireworks and special effects.

Renowned for building some "interesting" set pieces using large quantities of timber, Bouncing Bangers did not disappoint again this year. Huge stakes and vast sheets of wood hinted at another creative use of our rainforests.

Their wooden wall soon had the word "HELP" sawed out in big letters and a turret-like top added. Rumours circulated the field that it might be a giant submarine soon to be painted yellow! The difference in activity between this team and the two who flanked them was stark - both the other plots were still empty even when we arrived mid afternoon!

Behind the wooden structure the team set out a large range of pyro some of which was mounted on mechanical contraptions. One of the rules in this competition is that the fireworks must be unmodified consumer fireworks - in other words exactly the same thing your or I could buy from a retailer. So each year the teams use increasingly inventive - but legal - ways to make their arsenal safely angle, spin or rock.

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Their display did indeed have a Beatles theme, moving quickly into "HELP!" as the yellow submarine was illuminated and flanked by fireworks. A technical hitch saw their music die shortly after the start but despite this it was a stunning display and greatly appreciated by the now massive crowd assembled in the pub.

Firework Store 4 were firing second and from the back so they had to set up in the shadow of Bouncing Bangers. Literally that is - just down the field from their wooden submarine! Their firing area looked quite barren in comparison, but more traditional with lines of fireworks being taped to wooden stakes.

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This was another great display and showcases just what you could do at home if you buy the right fireworks and let them off safely. Remember all three team displays, no matter how professional they look, are all fired with consumer fireworks available right now from UK retailers!

Firing last and indeed setting up last were Newsbox Toyboys, leaving it very late as usual. I was hoping to do a time lapse video of their firing area but it would have just shown the grass growing!

Chris (pictured above) explained this year's display would try and match the mood of their chosen music more closely than they had attempted before.

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The end result was stunning. As you will see from the video clip both the timing and the fireworks were spot-on, as was the choice of music. Personally, I thought this was the best on the night, a view shared by those around camera corner. Well done Newsbox Toyboys, who went on to win, as decided by a panel of judges and the audience's vote.

An unexpected bonus was two large motorised Maltese wheel structures kindly supplied, set up and fired by the Festival Fireworks team. We're not talking garden fireworks here, these were the real thing and looked impressive even in the daytime! You can get an idea of scale in many of the team display photographs - these wheels are silhouetted at the front of the display area.

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I've never seen anything like this before and judging by the "ooohs" and "aaahs" from the spectators nor had many other people. They were a cross between a catherine wheel and a kaleidoscope. Have a look at the video! Many thanks to the Festival Fireworks crew for bringing these along.

The first of two professional shows to round off the evening was provided by Shockwave Pyrotechnics and Sky Dazzle. These were situated further down the field of course to allow the crews to show off some much larger fireworks. I'm afraid you can't buy these ones for your back garden!

I caught up with Glen from Shockwave who was busy fusing up. He explained they would be using a new firing system, MLE's Fire By Wire. This system has been talked about a lot in our members forum. One of many advantages of this system is that it's developed and supplied by a reputable UK company, so support is easily available without having to speak Chinese! He was quite excited to be using it but understandably nervous having only rehearsed the display on the laptop.

You can get a good idea of all the hard work that goes into a professional show from the pictures above, and have a look at the panoramic shot too (Quicktime or Flash versions available) which shows the wide range of pyrotechnics being used by Shockwave and Sky Dazzle. Shells, candles, cakes and more!

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The display speaks for itself, a truly spectacular mix of music and fireworks. Well done and thanks to the Shockwave and Sky Dazzle teams.

Ending the evening was the now traditional national anthem followed by some pyrotechnic fun from Flashpoint Fireworks. I always look forward to this bit as Flashpoint provide a great mix of artistic sequences and some heavy duty fireworks.

The picture above shows the final chase sequence of large explosions created by The FX Forge. If they look like large balls of flame it's because they were. We could feel the heat from the pub's beer garden and most of the spectators in front of us moved back a pace or two!! What better way to end and give the crowd something to talk about for years to come.

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Yet again, the pyro community who meet and network in the UKFR forum have pulled off another pyrotechnic spectacular to be proud of. From showcasing what you can do with consumer fireworks to demonstrating the cutting edge of professional show design it is without doubt one of the most enjoyable days on the firework calendar. I would like to say thanks on behalf of myself and the other members there as spectators for the hard work, time and money donated by all involved. I can only showcase a small part of what the event is about through the confines of this feature, but I hope it goes some way to preserving in pictures and video a great night. If you are a UKFR member be sure to check out the forum - there's loads more information about this competition along with member stories, reports, pictures, video and acknowledgements.