Tulips, Dover Days, race will put spring in your step

The tulips around the capital city signal that spring events will soon be here. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

DOVER — The tulips across the capital city lead us to believe spring is trying to settle in.

And they also signal another Dover Days weekend is almost here. The big day is Saturday, May 5.

This editor enjoyed the piece on Mabel Lloyd Ridgely that accompanied festival advertisements in Friday’s Delaware State News. She deserves credit for launching the annual event and traditions — like the maypole dances and parade — that have kept this community event strong for 85 years.

Next Sunday, the Delaware State News will include the official program for this year’s event.

Back in 1988, the newspaper had a fun article about Mrs. Ridgely’s original idea and how she pitched it to then-state archivist Leon deValinger. The two of them, really, were excellent champions of Dover and Delaware history.

“We sat in the garden room in the west part of the house,” Mr. deValinger, then 93 years old, told the newspaper. “and she told me about her trip to Charleston, South Carolina.

“She said they had a wonderful program where they opened gardens and homes to the public, and she wanted to know if I thought we could do it here. She was always interested in preserving the beauty and charm and the history of Dover, while at the same time, loved to entertain and had a vision for the future.”

Mrs. Ridgely, who died in 1962, was the founder and president of the Dover Garden Club and readily rallied its members to launch the event.

The maypole dances, featuring local school children have been held annually on The Green in the shadows of the Old State House, which owes its beauty and existence to Mrs. Ridgely.

Back in the 1940s, the state legislature was planning to raze the building, which had Victorian renovations and a dull gray exterior. She rallied the “Colonial Dames” to keep the site from becoming home to a cement building and then led the effort to restore it to its original beauty.

Mrs. Ridgely and Mr. deValinger also deserve much praise for their work to create the Delaware Public Archives. She rallied the legislature for $6,000 in 1905 to create the first archives center in a basement of the annex of the state house.

This year’s Dover Days events will be in the area of The Green and State Street — a move away from its the larger area around Legislative Hall.

It kicks off with a parade, featuring Gov, John Carney in colonial garb, in the lead carriage.

Details on the time and route will be included in the program in next Sunday’s edition.

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An unusual occurrence this year is that Dover Days and the spring race at Dover International Speedway are sharing the weekend.

The Saturday race, the OneMain Financial 200, gets the green flag at 1:30 p.m.

In addition to the tulips, we got a warm-up for the weekend a few days ago when the speedway had a crane lift a new Smithfield-sponsored No. 10 car into the raised hand of the Monster statue.

The Delaware State News sports team is doing some behind-the-scenes work on “Outside the Oval” this week.

Featured on the cover will be Kyle Busch, winner of the fall race at Dover.

It’s always interesting to hear the fan reactions during driver introductions at the track. Mr. Busch is one who seems to be the target of the most “boos” when his name is called.

“Outside the Oval” — which is published by the Delaware State News before the spring and fall races at Dover International Speedway — will be at the track and select newsstands on April 30.

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A video featuring the Monster’s new car is now available at www.DelawareStateNews.net.

It was produced by Nia Pope, a student at Polytech High School.

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The Delaware State News is also gearing up for its next special event, the W3 Fest.

“W3” stands for “What Women Want.”

The event, featuring a fashion show by Talbots, is Saturday at Wild Quail Golf and Country Club.

Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door.

Click on the “Events” link at www.DelawareStateNews.net and check out the special section with today’s paper for more information.

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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