Over fifty custom built floating braziers are anchored in the Shenango River in downtown Sharon, PA. The baskets are filled with wood and set ablaze at nightfall to produce one of the most interesting displays you will ever see. Fire and Water are not necessarily friends. In fact, they could be considered opposites. There’s something incredible and unique about seeing these fires as they float several inches above the river. Some people see beauty in the flames reflecting on the water while others gather energy from the proximity of the two elements. Regardless of how you react, it’s difficult to find words to describe a WaterFire event. Maybe that’s one of the reasons people keep returning to these performances…and return they do.
Nearly 70,000 people attended WaterFire Sharon’s three events in its 2013 inaugural season. Interestingly, it is staffed entirely by volunteers, and each performance requires about 350 of them. Obviously staging an event of this magnitude calls for a tremendous amount of community involvement, and people from all over the Shenango Valley (the area surrounding the event) are actively involved. However, it is not uncommon for visitors to return as volunteers for subsequent performances. People not only travel significant distances to see WaterFire, they also travel to work the events!
Each day-long event offers music, food and interactive arts experiences; all free of charge to the public. Actual WaterFire performances begin at dusk. Fire performers and other event entertainers add to the experience on, and around, the river; all accompanied by a very cool mix of live and recorded music.
WaterFire is a multi-sensory performance event created by Barnaby Evans in the mid-1990s as WaterFire Providence. It completely transformed a city, a community and a people, and delivered a public art form that came to symbolize the city’s effort to make the arts a major player in the revitalization of its downtown. WaterFire Providence’s success has been well documented and its expansion to different venues around the world substantiates its place as one of the significant community art forms of our generation.