FireFish Festival Returns to Fill Downtown Lorain with Art and Performances

Fri 9/20 @ 4-11PM

Sat 9/21 @ 11AM-11PM

Back in 2015, James Levin — founder of Cleveland Public Theatre, which fueled the rebirth of Gordon Square, co-founder of the Ingenuity Festival — had another idea. Similar to Ingenuity, whose initial goal was to activate under-utilized spaces in and around downtown Cleveland, he decided to fill Lorain’s fairly desolate and abandoned with activities and performances, culminating with the burning of a large fish, and called it the FireFish festival.

The idea worked so well it’s now in its fifth year. As in previous years, the festival will feature performances and art installations in storefronts, down alleys and on the main street. There’ll be impromptu street performances as well as scheduled performances on several stages. The parade that precedes the burning of the 30 x 15 foot fish steps off at 7:30pm Saturday. It’s a procession that features street performers, musicians and anyone who wants to join in, making its way to the river where the fish is ignited as darkness falls. Festival attendees are encouraged to dress up and bring hand-held percussion devices.

This year’s theme is pyrophytic plants — plants that resist fire or require fire to germinate and reproduce, a theme connected to Lorain’s own struggle to recover from the “fire” of economic devastation.

One of the people who will address the theme is well-known area theater artist Chris Seibery. Her “Love’s Lost Raree Box” is a portable interactive piece, which guides viewers to considering how the pyrophyric concept applies to their own lives. It’s one of a number of roaming art exhibits that visitors might encounter anywhere in the festival area.

We’re told that “Inspired by centuries-old traveling showmen and their wonderous rarity (‘raree’) boxes, the work intends to infuse neighborhood settings with mystery and wonder, and to engage willing audience members in the sharing of their own stories of love, loss, longing, magic and origins.”

This years’ festival is a mix of new and favorite returning acts. In the latter category, Kevin Jackson will again do a projection mapping installation, this time on the Northwest Bank Building. James Lascko will also be doing a projection installation, illuminating Founder’s Alley with images of outer space and aliens.

There’ll also be regular music performances, with popular local reggae band, Carlos Jones & the P.L.U.S. Band headlining on Friday, and La Gran Combinación, featuring a whopping 21 of the area’s top jazz musicians, including pianist Jackie Warren and Sammy DeLeon on timbales, on Saturday.

The festival takes place on Broadway Ave. between Erie Ave. and Fifth Street. It’s free and family-friendly, with free hands-on art activities, dance lessons and a market with local artists and makers in the afternoon. There’s also lots of food from around the world, provided by local chefs.

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