LORAIN — Be sure to check out Lorain Palace Theater’s marquee Saturday afternoon to catch High Voltage pumping up the crowd to kick off this year’s FireFish Festival.
The crew of Fire Fish Festival volunteers responsible for carrying the fish during the festival gathered Saturday morning to practice assembling the fish before the festival in Lorain next weekend.KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE
KRISTIN BAUER Enlarge
Kathie Dolgin, a Lorain native known by her stage name High Voltage and has spent years in Los Angeles and New York as a health and fitness expert, said she can’t wait to take part in the art extravaganza returning to downtown.
“I really want to get everyone’s energy pumped up and ready to go,” she said. “I’m going to be one of the very first acts that people see on Saturday and I really want the energy they get from my performance to carry through the whole festival.”
FireFish Festival, which is in its second year, will take over Broadway and Black River Lane beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday with visual and performing arts pieces, aimed at transforming the downtown space, executive director Jim Levin said.
Dolgin said she left the city right after her graduation from Admiral King High School in 1966 and returned recently to take care of her family.
“I know that the city has struggled in the past and that it still is,” she said. “But with events like FireFish and the other things that go on at Black River Landing, the right things are happening to give us a new heartbeat.”
Levin said he picked downtown Lorain to host the festival because it’s a local area that has struggled with the decline of the steel industry and economy.
“I thought, ‘How do we get people to come and explore this year that’s kind of run-down and that they just move past every day without really thinking about it?’” he said. “We wanted to make the spaces magical and put art in nontraditional places.”
Levin said that’s why some of the art, like the Great Lakes Light Opera’s performance piece, will take place on a fire escape on the side of the Palace Theater.
Another performance piece will be Jeremy Bible’s sound installation at the theater.
Bible said he takes different sounds that he collects on his travels and turns them into experiences for people to enjoy by using 18 speakers scattered throughout the space.
“It’s meant to be immersive,” he said. “It’s a symphony of sounds that you’re just sitting right in the middle of. It’s really about making scenes with the sounds I find and record then mix together.”
Other artistic highlights will include the Sammy De Leon orchestra, aerial artists Jasmine Dragons as well as video artist Kevin Jackson and pianist Angelin Chang in a joint performance.
A full schedule can be found online.
Levin said as the day progresses into the early evening, the performances will flow to Black River Lane as part of a “second act.”
“We want to slowly start moving people toward the river as the night goes on,” he said. “Because while last year’s finale took place on land, we wanted to make this year’s bigger and better.”
At last year’s FireFish Festival, a fish sculpture created by two high school students was set on fire in downtown Lorain.
This year’s fish, which Levin said is twice as big, will be marched through the area before being placed on a barge and floated down the river about 9:30 p.m., at which point specially installed pyrotechnics will cause it to catch on fire.
“It’s going to be so amazing,” Levin said. “And then following the finale, blues singer Kristine Jackson will take the main stage at Black River Landing and put on a performance. Last year, we had so many people down at the landing for the finale and didn’t have anything for them afterwards. We didn’t make that same mistake again.”
Levin said what he loves most about this festival is how community support has grown in the last year.
“Everyone in this city is just so welcoming to us,” he said. “From the government to the Lorain Port Authority to the businesses that participate. It’s just so great.”
Check out chronicle.northcoast now.com for a preview of Jeremy Bible’s performance.