In addition to working as an installer for K&D Countertops, RJ Blankenship (pictured above in the orange shirt) keeps busy by taking charge of several fireworks shows. RJ says that 15 years ago the person in charge of a fireworks show wanted to step down, and RJ soon took his place.
RJ says you must require two different licenses in order to shoot off fireworks and the process is taken very seriously. RJ took a two day class and passed a test through the Department of Natural Resources in order to earn his Explosive license. He says that you also have to get your Pyrotechnics license from the State Fire Marshal’s office. In addition to the licenses needed, you must get fingerprinted twice. One set is for the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and one set is for the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). The fingerprints are used as part of a background check.
RJ’s role in fireworks shows is to order the fireworks and help set up and shoot off the fireworks. The larger fireworks come from American Patriot Pyro in Lincoln IL. RJ says his favorite fireworks to shoot off are salutes – which release a loud explosion into the air. He recalls one year when his team created a picture of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. That was a very special moment for everyone watching.
Upcoming Shows & Events
Here’s a list of shows that are booked for this year:
Lake Wappapello, MO June 29th
Dexter, MO – July 4th
Keyesport, IL – July 6th
RJ also put on shows in these areas this past June:
RJ puts on shows all over Illinois and Missouri. His biggest show is in Keyesport IL which begins on July 6th and starts around 9:00 pm when it starts to get dark. He says to come early to the Keyesport fireworks show and there will be plenty of food and drinks.
In addition to many fireworks shows for the Fourth of July, RJ also shoots New Years celebrations and weddings. RJ recalls an exciting experience when he shot off fireworks for “The Bull Float Trip” hosted by St. Louis radio station, 93.7 The Bull, last year. The fireworks have become a family affair. In the pictures above you can see RJ’s daughter Brianna helping her dad prepare for the big shows. RJ’s wife Melissa recently became certified by receiving her explosive license.
You can follow RJ’s social media page Blankenship Fireworks to see more of his work and upcoming events he will be running. Thanks for all you do at K&D Countertops and for the community!