The 2013 Firefly Music Festival brought tens of thousands of music fans to Dover, where campers spilled out from The Woodlands onto Route 13 and hotels lit No Vacancy signs.
The three-day event on the grounds near Dover Downs International Speedway wrapped up June 23 with a sea of people sticking around to watch Vampire Weekend and Foster the People.
Earlier this weekend, household names such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Red Hot Chili Peppers graced the stages at The Woodlands, where fans and bands lauded the second year of the festival.
Concertgoers ran the gamut, from folks willing to dish out more than $1,000 for Super VIP passes to a host of volunteers who picked up trash, served food or scanned wristbands in exchange for a few free hours to enjoy live music.
Smyrna resident Cassandra McCoy, who volunteered to bartend, said she just wanted to make some extra cash and listen to music. McCoy said the hours were long but the atmosphere was laid-back. “We get a chance to walk around and enjoy it,” she said.
And fans were noticeably enjoying themselves. Besides the usual crowd surfing and hand clapping, audience members threw their hats on stage for the Sisters of Haim to wear, told stories into the microphone at the behest of Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and used their hands to form a floor for Kim Schifino from Matt and Kim to dance on.
“It’s great. There’s just so many people,” said Steve Stout of the Los Angeles band Blondfire. Stout said he grew up in New Jersey and is familiar with Delaware, but Blondfire singer Erica Driscoll said she was new to the First State. “The crowd was really nice,” she said.
Stout and Driscoll said Firefly was the band’s first festival and their last stop on a four-month tour. “We’re really excited to watch Tom Petty,” Driscoll said.
The Kopecky Family Band of Nashville has played major music festivals, such as Lollapalooza in Chicago and South by Southwest in Austin. “This one has been pretty great,” said drummer David Krohn. At larger festivals, he said, it can be difficult to draw a crowd or find a place to relax.
“This has been such a good festival,” said lead singer Kelsey Kopecky. “I feel like they really take care of artists here.”
Both Krohn and Kopecky said they hope to play the festival again in 2014.
Denis McGlynn, president of Dover Motorsports Inc., said bands and fans could expect another decade of Firefly. He said last year’s inaugural festival brought 30,000 people to Dover, many of them first-time visitors to Delaware.
McGlynn commended the young staff of Red Frog Events for their competence in handling twice as many people this year. “We’re looking forward to working with them into the next 10 years,” he said.
At a press conference June 21, Gov. Jack Markell said, “This has really put Delaware on the music map.”
Markell said 2,300 volunteers were helping put the event in action, and music fans traveled to Dover from all 50 states and foreign countries.
Along with more bands and more fans, more local businesses set up shop in The Woodlands this year. Dogfish Head returned to an expanded Brewery tent to serve Firefly Ale and other craft beers to thirsty fans.
Grotto Pizza dished out signature slices in the concession area, and Fifer Orchards of Wyoming and Good Earth Market of Ocean View had booths in the Farmer’s Market near the campgrounds.
Rachel Bullock-Brockway, owner of Greenman Juice Bar on Rehoboth Avenue, secured a spot at the festival for the first time. She said the opening day of the festival was largely a party crowd. “Today, all those people want juices,” she said.
The Greenman tent offered a number of festival-themed juice blends, including the O Yeah Yeah Yeah, the Grizzly Berry and the Firefly – a blend of orange, apple and beet.
Greg Bostrom, Firefly Music Festival director, said, “The festival has expanded greatly. We have double the amount of people, double the amount of space.”
Bostrom said 70 bands played this year’s event on nine stages across 87 acres of land. He thanked the community for embracing and accommodating the festival. “The second we stepped on site here, we knew this was where Firefly was going to spread its wings,” he said. “Our love of Dover, Delaware has only expanded.”
Bostrom also noted the festival’s charitable cause, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He said the event this year raised $6 million for the hospital. “Firefly is getting bigger and better,” he said.
Fans can already start preparing for next year. Presale tickets for Firefly’s June 2014 festival are slated to go on sale at 9 a.m., Wednesday, June 26. For more information, go to fireflyfestival.com.