DOVER — As Firefly Music Festival attendees began to migrate into the city Wednesday, Earl Taylor was hopeful of cashing in.
The Speedway Cafe owner stocked up on extra breakfast and lunch items in preparation for what could be a few big days ahead at his U.S. 13 eatery.
The four-day festival has had an impact already, he said.
“Our lunch crowd picked up a bit and I’m pretty sure it was because of the festival,” he said around noon. “We had a good breakfast crowd and the lunch crowd is looking pretty good too.”
For a small-business owner, Mr. Taylor said a rush of customers “can make a big difference.”
“A good weekend would be a blessing,” he said.
Mr. Taylor said he hoped some potential customers would choose to dine in his cafe because “we have one of the few vegan menus in Dover. I’m hopeful people will pick up on this.”
At Raceway Liquors near the Woodlands of Dover Firefly grounds, owner Vinay Prajapati hoped out-of-town customers would pick up plenty of cans and bottles of Budweiser, Budweiser Light and Coors Lite, along with various seltzers. He wasn’t sure, however, how the festival’s move from June to September would affect foot traffic after the concert event was canceled in 2020 due to concerns over the coronavirus.
Firefly’s return will “at least compensate a bit for what we lost last year,” Mr. Prajapati said. “They’ll be here for four days and that could have a big impact for us.”
A chance for visitors to settle into the area if even for a few days could bode well for the future, Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce President Judy Diogo said.
“Whenever you bring that large a number of people here for an attraction like this and have the opportunity to showcase the area, that’s always a positive,” Ms. Diogo said.
“While some of these people have been here before, other’s haven’t. It’s always our hope they’ll come back for a visit.”
The impact of an estimated 50,000 people through the weekend is felt on “the grocery stores, gas stations, markets, liquor stores, some retail stores,” Ms. Diogo said. “The people who come to Firefly are very inquisitive. They walk around the community and see things.
“Part of the adventure is investigating this place they’ve come to.”
According to Ms. Diogo, attendees “shop when they’re here. I see them everywhere, they’re inside the grocery store every time I’m there. The lines in the gas station are just a bit longer.”
The visitors make regular trips to get food and other necessities, and Ms. Diogo said, “they may go to a pharmacy to get toothpaste and a toothbrush that they left at home. There are things they may need every day but forget to pack.”
After a year’s hiatus, Firefly’s return “is a nice little boost. It’s a sign of getting back to normal. We’re getting back to a regular routine here in Central Delaware,” she said.
Ms. Diogo described the visitors as “good people. I’ve never heard a complaint about their stay here. They’re good stewards of their area. They keep their spots clean.
“What I hear from people is that it’s good to have them here. It’s good to have this little spurt of business. When they come in our community, we are glad to have them here.”
Firefly’s arrival “put us on the map for concerts,” Ms. Diogo said. “It gave us national recognition because this company (AEG Live) does these all over the country and all over the world. It gives us a view of Delaware that nobody has ever seen before.
“I think it’s great that they come here and spend money in Central Delaware, visit our wonderful community and be able to experience what we get to experience every day.”
SoDel Concepts, with restaurants throughout Sussex County, is one of the sponsors of Firefly.
“Firefly certainly brings commerce to Delaware, especially from those in the younger demographic,” said SoDel Concepts Executive Director Scott Kammerer.
“It obviously shows what’s here, areas like the beaches. It’s a draw that’s good for business. That’s kind of a given.
“Also, outside of the festival music, it’s an opportunity for attendees to linger in the area and that’s obviously a good benefit.”
Greater Milford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jo Schmeiser said area hotels are most impacted by the influx of festivalgoers along with “eating establishments, convenience stores, Uber and Lyft, and medical facilities.”
Traffic patterns affected
During Firefly, motorists may find traffic delays on Del. 1 and U.S. 13 in Dover.
Delaware Department of Transportation’s Transportation Management Center, in coordination with the Dover Police Department and the Delaware State Police, will monitor traffic in and around the Dover vicinity to ensure safe travel.
With the expected large number of festival patrons, the intersection of Leipsic and Persimmon Tree roads will be closed to through traffic from noon today until 2 a.m. Monday.
Local residents will not have access through that area until the conclusion of Firefly, at which time all roads will be reopened.
The majority of camping check-in will be done at Dover International Speedway’s Lot 1 (the largest DIS parking lot), south of the speedway and bordered by U.S. 13, Leipsic Road and Plaza Drive.
Traffic from the south will enter Lot 1 from north U.S. 13 through Jefferic Boulevard.
Traffic from the north will use Del. 1 south to Exit 104 to U.S. 13 south, then turn left onto Leipsic Road. Should traffic conditions warrant, Exit 104 and Exit 98 from Del. 1 will be closed, and traffic will be directed to Exit 95 to Bay Road to U.S. 13 north to Lot 1 via Jefferic Boulevard.
Once each vehicle is processed in Lot 1, it will exit at the east end of the lot back to Leipsic Road and to its assigned camping area.
Day parking for Firefly is available for $10 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at DIS.
Overnight parking is also available, starting at $40.
All times are subject to change.
Motorists can adjust their routes or travel times by using DelDOT’s app. WTMC 1380 AM is also available through the app.
Music begins today
The festival officially opens today with the music starting at 3 p.m. showcasing artists on five stages which will grow to seven Friday through Sunday.
Highlights today will include Wilmington’s own Eyebawl at 3:30 p.m. on the Wonder stage; Phoebe Bridgers at 8:15 p.m. on the main stage; Marc Rebillet at 9:30 p.m. on the Pavilion stage; and Billie Eilish headlining the main stage at 10:15 p.m.
Attendees will need proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test.
For more information on the festival, visit here.