Nights of Fire Festival Preview & Interview with Organizer, Kyle
Aug 19-21, The Woods at Bear Creek, Franklinville, OH
Written by Elise Olmstead
Nights of Fire Festival, coming up next weekend August 19-21, 2016, in Franklinville, NY, is one of the most unique festivals of the summer. Flow arts have always been a beloved part of festivals, mesmerizing all those that took time to gather around the artists as they danced almost effortlessly with fire. Nights of Fire is one of the only festivals I’ve seen that has been created by a flow artist, and you can see the passion in every facet of the event. While many admire those who many fire hoop, spin a staff, or swirl their fire poi, you, too, can become part of this magic at Nights of Fire. It is also the perfect sanctuary for experienced or beginning flow artists who would like to expand their craft. Some recognizable names that will be there include Knagi and his propane dance floor, Forest Fyer, Eton, Allie Starfox, and more.
Even if you have little interest in these flow arts, there is an amazing lineup of music and amenities to enjoy, including two nights of Rumpke Mountain Boys, two nights of The Mantras, two nights of The Blind Owl Band, two nights of Madam Bliss. It is always wonderful to have two nights of a band at a festival, because the bands create more variety in their sets, hang out longer with the attendees, and if you miss some of their set one night, you can see them again the next night.
Some of the amazing amenities include free car camping and parking, an unheard-of on site restaurant and on site bar, bath houses, pool, zip line, basketball and tennis courts, biking and hiking trails, free blanket vending, kid’s activities and more. Cabin rentals are even available for those who don’t feel like roughin’ it.
We sat down with organizer Kyle about how the festival came to be, how it opened his perspective to his passions and the industry, as well as the venue, bands, amenities, and much more.
Please tell me about yourself and how you became involved in fire arts.
I am “Wyld” Kyle Melancon the founder, manager, and performer of Spun Out Fire Productions. I was born in Rochester NY but my parents got divorced when I was about 5. I then grew up in Buffalo, NY, with a single mother and little brother. I am now 29 years old. Growing up so close to Toronto, ON; my brother, myself and our friends discovered the rave scene towards the end of high school. This got us into playing with glow sticks and seeing poi for the first time.
Shortly after that we discovered the festival scene in 2004-2005 and couldn’t get enough. At that time someone at a STS9 show informed me that you can also spin fire poi. It was that moment I decided I was going to learn how to spin poi just so I could play with fire.
I then taught myself poi with no real help as I was the first of all my friends to get into it and never had internet until later in my adult life. So there was lots of trial and error and hitting myself in the face for a year until Bonnaroo 2006 when it poi just clicked. By 2007 I bought myself my first set of fire poi at 10,000 Lakes Festival.
As i learned more and met more people who shared the same passion I discovered so many other spinning n flow props that I decided I wanted to learn them all. Still working on that, but I now have over 20 different fire props I use.
Over the years my friends and I started spinning fire together at local festivals and events giving birth to Spun Out Fire Productions. Spun Out Fire Productions (SOFP) has now been touring the East coast for over 7 years.
How did you get the idea for a fire arts themed festival?
The idea for a fire themed festival is more a side note. We want Nights of Fire to not be recognized as a fire festival or a musical festival but more of an everything festival. As there is fire themed festivals that are 100% fire as some music festivals are only music. After seeing so many different scences growing up and going to over 100 music festivals I kind of wanted to just take the best piece of each one, and then some, and put it all into 1 magical weekend.
Yes fire is major player as well as the music. However the idea for Nights of Fire is to bring everyone together from every walk of life. So I guess being fire spinners we want lots of fire there but in the end that is just another art form. One of the biggest motivators behind creating Nights of Fire was to share and spread the knowledge. Not just knowledge on the flow arts or drumming but any knowalge that one my want in his or her life. Nights of fire is a place where we encourage everyone to be themselves.
SOFP wanted to create an event where everyone would want to come. Not only come to party and have a good time but more importantly learn, teach, and share knowledge with others. Not just fire spinners, not just festi n tour kids, or rave kids, but rather everyone and their families too. So Nights of Fire is more of a fire, bands, DJs, workshop, belly dancing, go go dancers, stilt walkers, air brush artist that are actual tattoo artist, graffiti artist, sculptors, lectures, mountain bike trails, drumming, circus acts, kids activities, Glamping, learning teaching, themed retreat/festival if you will.
What were some struggles and triumphs your first year? How did people respond to the experience?
This is technically our 6th year of Nights of Fire. However the first 3 years were more of a get together with no music. Nights of Fire has slowly and steadily grown since then.
2014 was the first year Spun Out Fire Productions decided to turn Nights of Fire into a full blow production, by adding several bands, DJs, and other performance artist to the lineup. Some of the biggest struggles in 2014 were learning how to “swim”. We defiantly took a hit on the pocket book but that is what it is. I also thought I personally could just be the guy organizing everything. Well I quickly learned I cannot be in 4 places at once. Even tho we took a hit and I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off all weekend we still pulled it off. All the music and workshops happened. There were no problems, everyone got along and most importantly everyone was having fun with huge smiles on their faces.
In 2015 we added even more and had 5 times the amount of people show up. Being a smaller up and coming festival these numbers were still not huge. We also added some chiefs of staff so each department had its own manger thus creating even more of a top notch production.
People loved it. With so much going on there was something for anyone. The people who came to learn had workshops to attend all day. Guest who wanted to dance to some EDM and DJs had a DJ stage to go to. Those who would rather listen to some good old fashioned bluegrass or jam bands have a whole other stage to go to. Then there are the die hards who came to experience this one of a kind event and got just that. So many people young and old attendants personally told me they have never been to anything like Nights of Fire before and want to come back every year.
What did you discover about yourself and your festival afterwards?
The biggest eye opener I had about myself after hosting a festival is that I cannot do everything myself. No matter how much I want to or believe I can there is just too much for any one man. So it taught me to trust and believe in the people helping me even more. If you want something done right then do t yourself is something I always believed. After hosting a festival I had to throw that idea out the window. Basically I had to stop micro managing and just let the chiefs of staff do their thing. Once I let go, things became a little less stressful. I learned instead of doing it myself take the time to properly explain n teach someone else how to do it instead.
After hosting Nights of Fire for the first year I discovered there is a lot more to a festival then what meets the eye. Even for someone like myself who has been to and even performed at so many. Once you cross over to the other side of production it’s a whole new world. After a long weekend of overseeing everything we all saw the true potential of Nights of Fire. People just want to have fun and grow. So we realized more than ever that Nights of Fire could evolve to be one of the most free form and educational, entertainment events that ever was. Not to be the “best” but just to be, to be a place for everyone to come together and be themselves. That is why we continue to find new forms of art and dance we have not yet had yet. We feel that festivals should not just be focused on one scene or the other but every way imaginable for some you come and express themselves through peace love and art. Whatever form that may be. As we want everyone to evolve their consciousness we too must grow Nights of Fire to help encourage said evolution. We learned the more forms of art and music we add then the wider range of demographics will attend and then hopefully rub off on each other. Thus making everyone more accepting of each other, and building a stronger understanding that we are all only human after all.
Tell me a little bit about the venue.
This Nights of Fire is at a new location. We moved it to be closer to the surrounding cities and to have a venue that is better suited for a retreat. Nights of Fire will take place at the one and only Woods at Bear Creek Glamping resort in the beautiful country side of Franklinville NY.
The Woods at Bear Creek sits upon 750 acres of private property. When we say it is a Glamping resort we mean it. There are 16 Glamping Cabins available for the duration of the weekend. Each Glamping cabin has 2 bedrooms, huge living room, 2 bathrooms, couches, AC and more. The new venue also has a 1400 foot zipline which will be open for Nights of Fire, plus basketball and tennis courts, 13 miles of mountain bike trails, Olympic sized in ground swimming pool, 2 full service bars, gourmet restaurant, all of which is onsite, and centered around a gorgeous 20 acre lake.
Why did you choose the bands that you did for the lineup this year?
People have thoroughly enjoyed the musical acts we have brought in the past couple of years. So this year we wanted to recreate the same feeling of years past but add some more spice to it. As with every part of Nights of Fire we did not want to limit ourselves to just a genre or 2. As most of SOFP is influenced by Bluegrass or EDM we bring in a wide range of music for everyone to enjoy.
The Rumpke Mountain Boys are a crowd favorite as well as some local bands such as Experimental Sandwich and Subsoil all of which have been with us for 3 years now. Same with our DJs like Madam Bliss, Basha, Keeter, and Chucks just to name a few. This year however we wanted to give the people more. Being more North East coast and loving Bluegrass we had to bring in The Blind Owl Band with their fast pace high energy fret train music. We knew they would be a perfect fit for the atmosphere we are trying to create. This year we also wanted to build a bridge from the band stage to the DJ stage so we reached out to The Mantras to get a little more of the live electronic feel but with still more of a rock base. The Mantras also do themed sets so as we worked everything out with them the idea of them doing a “Talking Dead” set just seemed way too fitting.
So as we picked out the musical acts we wanted to bring in this year we looked for musicians that really want to come be part of something new. Not just play their music n go, but to also interact with all other activities and go above and beyond their set times. Musicians that want to play around the campfire, and or, DJ on low volume, just to keep the music going. These are the musicians we want at Nights of Fire. Most of our musical acts enjoy Nights of Fire so much that they have 2 to 4 sets throughout the weekend.
What are some other aspects of the festival can people participate in besides seeing music and viewing fire spinning?
We want people to come to Nights of Fire to get away. Nights of Fire is a retreat packed full of educational entertainment. On top of all the music and fire spinning, there are hours of workshops to attend as well. Each morning starting at 9am Nights of Fire will feature workshops in many flow props, yoga, slack line, belly dance, drumming, crystal grids, performance lectures, juggling, and more.
Nights of Fire also has FREE parking and FREE car side camping included with your ticket. The new venue also hosts a full service gourmet restaurant and 2 full service bars. One of the bars is located in Club Perceptive. Club Perceptive is a huge rec hall with 30 foot ceilings and an auditorium like stage. This will be the EDM or DJ stage for the weekend.
There is also a Thursday night pre party or The Gather The Kindling party. The Gather the Kindling party will feature 3 bands, and 3 DJs. On Friday Saturday and Sunday night Nights of Fire will also host a silent disco. The silent Disco will have 2 channels playing that anyone from the festival whether it be DJ or guest can sign up for a 30 min time slot and DJ at the festival on stage. This gives people the chance to also be part of the show.
Also everyone and anyone is encouraged to spin fire. It may be their first time or millionth time. We will have 2 designated areas inside of the venue which will be open for anyone to come spin fire in after going to a safety meeting and signing a waiver.
Nights of Fire will also have a 1400 foot zip line open all weekend. Plus basketball and tennis courts, in ground Olympic sized swimming pool, 13 miles of mountain bike trails, and bath houses and showers open to the general public. There will also be plenty of vendors selling, paintings, fire and flow toys, gems n stones, clothing, and so much more. Plus many great and talented artists will also be spread out throughout the festival. Including but not limited to the Peace Catcher cabin. A cabin that will be filled with black lights and neon colored dream catchers stretched out through the cabin, open to everyone.
One of the biggest parts of Nights of Fire is the epic sculpture burning or effigy on Saturday night. The past few years it has always been Kevin Gray of Gray Art who builds these structures to burn down. Gray Art will be returning this year however he will be joined by several other artist who will also be building an effigy for us to burn. So this year Nights of Fire will have more fire than ever before with multiple sculpture burnings.
Then of course we also have the famous Knagi and his propane dance floor controlled by a laser harp. This is a circle of propane fueled flamethrowers that are activated as crowd members play the laser harp. If that’s not cool enough there will also be fire spinners and other performance acts going on inside of the propane dance floor. New this year we will also have Toad Meadow joining us with a flame throwing toad car.
Do you have any new or exciting plans for this year?
Besides the new venue Nights of Fire has added some other new amenities so our guests get more bang for their buck. We have added some new headliners and the Silent Disco. The Silent Disco will be open for any to sign up for a 30 min time slot, and will run from 4am to 8am through 2 channels. Plus we got more dancers and performers and fire installations to come from every corner of the country.
However what may be the most exciting part of Nights of Fire 2016 is the new band stage. The last few years the band stage was more or less a super nice porch. This year we went all out on a huge party tent and official stage. The new band or rather Evolution stage will also be decorated from top to bottom to really set the mood.
We also upped our production levels to be even more efficient by getting multiple golf carts. We will also have a festi cab set up and running throughout the weekend for everyone’s convenience.