DOVER — Sure, the crowds at Firefly tend to skew younger, but for the parents who accompany their children to the music festival, their attendance is not solely about being a chaperone.
“It is an experience,” Lisl Phelps said after attending the first day of the festival on Thursday. “I told my husband (Saturday) morning that it’s like I feel different since I’ve been there — I don’t know why, but it is an experience that I enjoyed sharing with my daughter.”
Despite the delayed opening time of more than four hours Thursday, Ms. Phelps of Lewes said she and her 15-year-old daughter Amelia “Mia” Phelps loved being at the festival.
“My daughter is a big fan of Billie Eilish and she talked about going, and, I have to be honest, I wasn’t too keen on going,” Ms. Phelps said. “It sounded like too much for me.”
Ms. Phelps ended up purchasing day tickets for her and her daughter so they could both see Ms. Eilish in her headlining set late Thursday, noting she thought it “would be an adventure for us.”
Prior to the gates being delayed from opening until 7:30 p.m., Ms. Phelps said the plan had been for her to pick her daughter up after school and then head straight to the festival.
The duo ended up leaving for Dover much later, arriving around 8 p.m. Ms. Phelps noted she “didn’t love” getting home after 2 a.m. but, said she thought singer/songwriter Phoebe Bridgers and then Ms. Eilish both put on great shows.
A seasoned attendee of concerts and festivals — she’s a patron of Warped Tour and the HFStival — Ms. Phelps said she was surprised by the large scope of Firefly, which this year was noticeably smaller than previous years.
“I would have liked to see it all in the daylight,” she said.
Introducing music to her children is something important to both her and her husband. Her brother also is a musician.
Kristen Nelms and her husband Justin Nelms — both visiting from Columbia Maryland with their two children Quinn, 10, and Grayden, 12, — said attending Firefly for the first time with their children has been a “learning experience.”
Mr. and Ms. Nelms had previously been to Firefly without their children about four or five years ago.
“It’s a lot different with kids,” Ms. Nelms said.
Like Ms. Phelps, Ms. Nelms said both she and husband love live music and thought it was important that they introduce the experience of going to shows to their children.
Speaking Friday, Ms. Nelms said Billie Eilish’s show on Thursday was “a lot of fun,” though she said the weather delays on Thursday were a bit of a pain to deal with.
The family was most looking forward to Lizzo’s show set for Sunday at 10:30 on the main stage, which will wrap up the 2021 Firefly Music Festival.
Hannah and Pierce Hooper from Salisbury, Maryland were “loving” their first time at Firefly on Friday. The wife and husband had purchased tickets last year, and rolled over those tickets for this year following the festival’s postponement in 2020 due to coronavirus concerns.
The Hoopers were accompanied by their 6, almost 7 year-old, daughter Lila.
Ms. Hooper said as neither she nor her husband drink, their daughter was in for a tame experience at the festival.
Abbey Williams, 16, from Pennsylvania, who was attending Firefly for the first time with her family and family friends, said Friday that she was having lots of fun. She and her family were staying in a nearby hotel.
Michelle Egan and Tyler Purday from Norristown, Pennsylvania said that while they do have a campsite, they opted to retain a hotel room just in case of more inclement weather. They were attending Firefly with Abbey and her family.
This was the group’s first time at Firefly. Ms. Egan and Mr. Purday were attending with their sons Gavin, 8, and Brandon, 13.
At the Billie Eilish concert Thursday, Ms. Egan said she and her family stayed at the back of the crowd.
“We were not going (into the crowd) deep,” Ms. Egan said.
With her daughter having recently attended a Harry Styles concert where she and her friends sat up in the “nosebleed section,” Ms. Phelps said this time she wanted to be closer to the action.
Ms. Phelps stayed to the back of the crowds, but said she still had a decent view of the stage.
“I felt like I had a really good view,” she said. “I was really impressed by that.”
Ms. Phelps said she wasn’t “too keen” on letting her daughter go into the crowd by herself. With her daughter being 15 years old, Ms. Phelps said she didn’t want to hover, but also wanted to be there for her daughter just in case of trouble.
“I didn’t feel like I had to monitor her every step of the way, but I’m there in case she had concerns,” Ms. Phelps said.
Ms. Phelps said she was impressed by how nice the crowds at Firefly were.
“I feel like everyone was there to have a good time and people were gracious,” she said. “Everyone was so polite and I don’t know if it’s the crowd that Firefly attracts, it might, or if it’s just that this generation is more gracious. But it’s different than what you see in a bar. It was kind of cool. It made me feel good.”
If she and her daughter come to the festival next year, Ms. Phelps said she might upgrade herself to the VIP section that offers a few more creature comforts like Adirondack chairs. She said her friend who also accompanied her children to e Firefly spent her time Thursday in the VIP area and thoroughly enjoyed the amenities there.
Between Phoebe Bridgers and Billie Eilish shows on Thursday, Ms. Phelps spent about an hour exploring the grounds in search of a Diet Coke, she said.
That was her major complaint about her experience as a parent at the festival — the apparent lack of Diet Cokes.
“On Thursday, there were no soft drinks except Red Bull,” she said. “I would have given anything for a Diet Coke and I could not find one.”