DOVER — The lineup of foods at the Firefly Music Festival may be just as anticipated as the artists’ performances.
Pop-up vendors are staging more than just the usual fried goodies, and almost everything comes with a twist.
To the excitement of many Firefly veterans, Island Noodles returned for their eighth year at the festival. Island Noodles are Hawaiian-inspired soba noodles with a variety of 21 fresh vegetables and a unique island-style sauce.
Jadd Serhan is close friends with the company’s owner and helps run several booths at different events. He said they keep the menu simple with just two options, noodles with chicken or noodles without chicken.
“We don’t get many complaints,” Mr. Serhan said. “There was one year we weren’t going to come to Firefly but apparently the festival got a lot of calls saying to get us there, so we made it work.”
Island Noodles serves up soba at many other popular music festivals such as Sea.Hear.Now in New Jersey last weekend and Made in America in Philadelphia earlier this month. They are a pop-up only business that uses takeout cups made of eco-friendly compostable material that is BPI-certified.
Bulldog Burgery is another pop-up business that is no stranger to Firefly. Based out of New York City, they were here in the early years; their last appearance was in 2017.
The Bulldog Burgery has American foods like burgers, French fries and chicken fingers, but also have a fruity, refreshing menu that pairs with the classic entrees.
“We also sell watermelon because we always like to give a little fruit option,” said Michael Giordano, business manager. “We miss the whole vegan crowd so we offer the fruit to try and keep up with that.”
Everything but the buns are gluten free and every ingredient is prepared fresh and from scratch.
“That’s what really keeps us going, making everything from scratch,” Mr. Giordano said. “Our best days are when people are drinking a lot of alcohol. And working at music festivals in America, you can’t go wrong with the iconic American food.”
Roza Paella is bringing some culture from overseas, doing business with just one item on the menu: chicken and chorizo paella. It includes rice cooked down in chicken saffron broth, lots of vegetables, olives, roasted red peppers, kale and green beans to top it off.
Seth Dayutiz, who has worked the stand all over different events and festivals across the West Coast said spices like saffron and paprika are the most important.
“The smell of it is so unique and that draws people in,” Mr. Dayutiz said.
The business is based in Montana and Firefly is the first event they’ve ever been to on the East Coast. They said business was a little slow to start because people weren’t familiar with Spanish cuisine.
“A lot of people come up and say ‘I’ve never heard of this in my life,’ and I just get them to try it first,” Mr. Dayutiz said. “I’ve never had anyone turn it down after that.”
There are a total of 28 food vendors at Firefly. In addition, seven food trucks made up the "Food Truck Oasis."
Firefly also launched the Supper Club this year.
A one-of-a-kind food and drink pairing from acclaimed chefs with intimate live performances are offered each day and seats are limited.
Friday and Saturday was the Bluegrass Barbeque dinner. Saturday and Sunday featured a drag brunch with live drag entertainment. Firefly says the Sunday-only special Christmas Dinner is “a family-style dining experience that you’d never want with your actual family,” with Peek-a-boo Burlesque performances.
Along the lines of the risque, one food stand is putting a twist on a breakfast favorite.
At Dickery, waffle-lovers can get just that: a waffle on a stick drizzled with chocolate, white chocolate or a twist of both. Another twist: its shape.
Co-founders Connor Reed and Cole Gennrich are longtime friends who met in a college marketing class. Mr. Gennrich’s mother went to culinary school, so he said he grew up around creative foods.
During the 2020 pandemic, he had an “entrepreneurial itch” and earlier this year, Mr. Gennrich called Mr. Reed with an idea to create and sell phallic-shaped waffles.
They started the business in April in New York City, selling their creations at small farmers markets. Things really kicked off in June when they landed a spot at Pride Fest in New York City.
The full eatery experience includes a slew of clever puns, which the co-owners say require a good sense of humor.
“Facial expressions are priceless,” Mr. Gennrich said. “We’ve gotten a couple of scowls here and there but for the most part it’s overwhelmingly positive. It’s just a little playful mischief but it’s kind of our M.O., and we’re here to provide smiles and a good time and a good culinary experience.”
Over at The Brewery, Milton-based Dogfish Head Brewery represents Delaware at Firefly every year.
The Brewery features two Dogfish draft beers, a Punkin Ale seasonal beer and the exclusive Firefly Ale, a guava pale ale only available at Firefly. There are also seven different Dogfish can options and their new Lemon Quest non-alcoholic beer.
Tricia Fitzgerald, associate experimental manager, said they expected to sell out of the Firefly Ale on Saturday night.
“We’re really proud to be a part of the festival,” she said. “It’s really great to see people with their Dogfish hats and shirts walking around with that local pride. For people out of state, this is a great learning experience and introduction to our local beers.”
Since they’ve started national distribution, Ms Fitzgerald said that people who don’t know about Dogfish are few and far between. Their flagship beers, the 60-minute and 90-minute IPAs are widely recognized.
This is the first year that The Brewery includes a slew of food trucks right next to the bar. Dogfish is also running a cornhole tournament each day of the festival and has a photo booth and bandanna giveaways.