Delaware residents are encouraged to adopt Dover during the weekend of May 3-5, when the local citizenry dons Colonial attire and rolls out the red carpet to usher in the 80thAnnual Dover Days Festival.
The free-admission event gets under way at 6 p.m., Friday, May 3, on the lawn of Legislative Mall. The Delaware Symphony Orchestra will provide a free outdoor concert followed by a fireworks show at dusk that will include an 80-gun salute to the 80th Dover Days. In total, 95 events and activities round out the weekend.
Dover Days began as a simple garden tour in 1933. One of the town’s suffragists, Mabel Lloyd Ridgley, had attended a similar event in Charleston, S.C. She felt Dover’s beautiful homes and gardens in the Colonial and Victorian districts would lend themselves well to such an affair. The event was hosted by the Friends of Old Dover until the 1990s, when Kent County Tourism took the reins.
“To keep things fresh, we plan the event to appeal to history lovers, children, mature citizens, locals, visitors and more,” said Lorraine Dion, director of special events and public relations for Kent County Tourism.
Saturday’s events feature traditional maypole dancing where 300 school children dressed in Colonial attire perform intricate ribbon dances around a maypole on the city’s historic Green, five military encampments from Revolutionary to World War II, two dozen Colonial and Victorian artisans demonstrating trades and crafts, 330 contemporary crafts vendors, horse-drawn carriage rides, bicycle stunt shows, a Delaware peach pie-eating contest, carnival rides and the Kraft Activities Korner. Dover’s largest parade and pet parade will march through town Saturday morning.
Sunday’s events include a plein air quick draw competition, judged car show, 19th century vintage baseball game, tour of nine historic gardens and a cornhole tournament. More than 120 arts, crafts and food vendors will also be on hand.
For more information about the festival and the complete schedule of activities, visit www.DoverDaysFestival.com or call 800-233-5368.