Spending an evening on the banks of the Scioto watching giant torches flicker on the river is pretty magical. But for WaterFire Columbus, it just wasn't enough.

Starting with last year's slate of seven burns, the public art exhibit partnered up with other local arts groups to create an experience that offers both visual and performance art at the same time.

Spending an evening on the banks of the Scioto watching giant torches flicker on the river is pretty magical. But for WaterFire Columbus, it just wasn't enough.

Starting with last year's slate of seven burns, the public art exhibit partnered up with other local arts groups to create an experience that offers both visual and performance art at the same time.

So not only will you get to watch a planned 30 bonfires floating down the river (an increase of 50 percent over last year's offering), you'll also get to catch a riverside show from BalletMet. Or the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. Or the Symphony's Youth Orchestra.

And, as always, the events are free.

The new format adds some variety to the WaterFire experience.

"The symphony doesn't play the same Bach piece every time they perform," said Mike Collins, owner of Promotions One, the production company that puts on the WaterFire events.

WaterFire Columbus was inspired by a similar art installation in Rhode Island, created by artist Barnaby Evans, that has widely been credited with revitalizing that city's downtown. Event coordinator Linda Roehrenbeck hoped it could do something similar in Columbus.

WaterFire started as a nonprofit arts group back in 2004, and Roehrenbeck oversaw two "burns" during the 2005 season. In 2006, the group approached Promotions One-responsible for some of the city's most prominent outdoor events including Red, White & Boom-to revitalize the event.

Since taking over WaterFire, Collins' team has reached out to local performing groups that are already proven crowd-pleasers. The goal, he said, is to draw 1,500 to 2,500 people to each event.

This year's first WaterFire burn is scheduled for Friday, May 29, in conjunction with the kickoff celebration for Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's Riverfest.

Collins promises a delightful evening.

"On nice nights Downtown, when you look from Genoa Park and the fires are lit and it's dark, and you can see the Supreme Court building and the Broad Street bridge is lit up - it's a stupendous look at the Columbus skyline," Collins said.

2009 WaterFire Columbus Schedule May 29: Riverfest June 13: Partner TBD July 1: Partner TBD Aug. 7: Partner TBD Aug. 28: Partner TBD Sept. 4: BalletMet Sept. 18: Riverfront Arts Festival