BEST BETS: OktDoverFest drawing a Party Fowl

The Smyrna-Clayton-based Party Fowl will play Saturday’s OktDoverFest on Loockerman Street along with Toney Rocks and Mike Hines and The Look. (Submitted photo)

While the local music scene is filled with cover bands, there aren’t too many with their own duck mascot.

Party Fowl brings Clayton, their oversized web-footed party pal, to most of the gigs they play.

That’s just one of the things that lead singer Shawn Bell thinks sets the Smyrna-Clayton-based band apart from the rest.

“We try to do a lot of different things. We’ll play games on stage between songs. We have Clayton up there dancing and interacting with the audience,” he said.

“In this day and age, people are going to film everything anyway and have social media at their fingertips. So it’s a good way to help market ourselves.”

The six-member Party Fowl, along with Clayton, will appear at Saturday’s OktDoverFest celebration along Loockerman Street in Dover. The annual festival runs from 3 to 9 p.m. and also features entertainment from Toney Rocks and Mike Hines and The Look, along with beer, wine, spirits, food, games and more.

A longtime musician in local bands such as Plastic Parts and The Vigilantes, Mr. Bell was looking to start his own group after The Vigilantes disbanded early last year.

“I told Jimmy Torbert, who was the drummer in The Vigilantes and our drummer now, that I wanted to front a new band,” he said.

“For years, I played piano but I was never the lead singer. ”

Mr. Bell, of Smyrna, also had another clear vision for his new project. He wanted all of the members to be from the Smyrna-Clayton area.

“I wanted to keep it local. I’m very proud of the Smyrna-Clayton area. I feel like between our schools and our sports teams, it’s a very up-and-coming area and I wanted to build it off of anyone who is from around here,” he said.

He accomplished his mission of getting local performers, many of whom have many years invested in the local music scene.

Party Fowl’s mascot Clayton, named after the local town, will be at Saturday’s OktDoverFest. (Submitted photo)

Along with Mr. Bell and Mr. Torbert, the band consists of Scott Cooksey and Brad McCrackin on guitars, Travis Rausch on keyboard and vocals and Greg Wilson on bass.

“Jimmy came to us through The Vigilantes and also played with Trailer Park Casanovas for years. Brad was in Hyjinx, Scott was with me in Plastic Parts. Travis is a good friend of mine who has done the solo thing for years and Greg was friends with Jimmy. It’s a good group with a lot of experience.”

The band’s first gig was at last year’s Smyrna-Clayton’s Fourth of July Parade where they rode on the back of a tractor-trailer. They repeated that again this year.

Since that first appearance, they have played in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.

Mr. Bell said the band’s quick success has in some ways been a surprise and in some ways not.

“You never know how any band is going to take off. You put so much effort into it and make sure everything is sounding good. We all had good connections already in place and we reached out to a lot of folks when we were ready to go,” Mr. Bell said.

“The game plan was to hit the ground running and we’ve gotten to play some good rooms and, with as small as Delaware is, word of mouth has spread.”

Mr. Bell said the members’ experience of being in previous bands has helped.

“You know what to stay away from and what’s good to get involved with. Everyone has been on the same page as far as being available for gigs as well, which is important,” said Mr. Bell, crediting the band members’ wives and girlfriends for their understanding.

“With kids, it takes a toll on scheduling and our wives have their hands full with taking care of the kids and household while we are gone.”

The high-energy band draws from a mix of genres, from rock to country to old-school rap.

“When we played our first gig, we had 10 songs. Now we have over 60. We’ve made a commitment to learn three new songs a week. This band has a really strong work ethic,” Mr. Bell.

While Party Fowl is gaining a reputation for their musicianship, it’s Clayton that sometimes steals the show.

The idea for Clayton, named after his beloved sister town, came from Mr. Bell, who spent six years in the costume of Rocky Bluewinkle, the mascot of the Wilmington Blue Rocks minor league baseball team.

“I got my nephew to draw me up this party duck with a backwards cap, drinking beer and wearing beads. I figured we could use him in our logo. We went back and forth with a few iterations and finally got one we liked,” Mr. Bell said.

“Then we figured we had to have a real mascot. We got the suit made and he’s taken off. The kids’ faces light up and everybody likes to have their picture taken with him and he’s become a big part of the band.”

Mr. Bell said Clayton travels with them to almost every gig unless it looks like rain.

“He’s the first duck to not like water,” he joked.

Mr. Bell said an event like OktDoverFest is a perfect one for Party Fowl.

“We love doing any kind of festival,” he said.

“We do a lot of corporate- and family-oriented events. We let the kids bang on the drums. We’ll let them sing and bring them on stage. We’re there for them and we also give Mom and Dad something to do as well.”

Party Fowl will hit the stage at 5 p.m. Before them will be Toney Rocks, aka Toney Robinson.

Mr. Robinson is a former Dover resident now living in Las Vegas. He mixes Americana and blues in his original compositions.

The ubiquitous party band Mike Hines and the Look will wrap up the night from 7 to 9 p.m.

Loockerman Street will be closed between State Street and Governors Avenue for the event, which is expected to draw more than 6,000 people.

Attractions include a Mobile Cloud Gaming Truck, a stein hoisting competition at 33 West (for those who register before 4 p.m.), magician Charlie Joseph, face painting, merchandise vendors, games, inflatables and more.

Craft beer will be available from Fordham and Dominion, Crooked Hammock, Blue Earl, Mispillion River Brewing, Big Oyster, 16 Mile, 3rd Wave and RAR.

There will be craft mead from Liquid Alchemy, craft spirits by Painted Stave Distilling and Easy Speak Spirits and wine from Great American Wine Company.

Food vendors will include 33 West, Angelo’s, Mojo Loco, Haass’ on the Go, Zaikka on Wheel and Kapow.

The event is free but unlimited free pours of alcohol are available for $37 prior to the event. For tickets, find OktDoverFest on Eventbrite.com.

On Saturday, unlimited pours will be $47 and single pours will be $5 each.

Oktoberfest Saturday

In a more traditional celebration the Dover German American Club and Little Creek Fire Department present Oktoberfest 2018 Saturday from 3 to 11 p.m. at the Little Creek Fire Company, 311 Main St.

General admission is $5.

The event will feature bratwurst, sauerkraut, hot dogs, beer, schnitzel, German music, a 50/50, door prizes and a raffle for three authentic Hummels from West Germany. Desserts will be available for purchase

A mug with unlimited beer will be $25. A mug with unlimited soda $15. Mugs will also be sold for $10.

For more information and advanced tickets, contact Sharon Ponsell at 228-0802 or Terrell Taylor at 670-0395.

Robin Williams tribute

As we told you last week, Roger Kabler performs all of your favorite Robin Williams skits and scenes for two shows Saturday at the Milton Theatre with The Ultimate Robin Williams Experience.

The show has been performed across the country and focuses on the joy the late Mr. Williams brought people for decades.

Performances are set for 3 and 8 p.m.

Roger Kabler will take the stage of the Milton Theatre with “The Ultimate Robin Williams Experience” Saturday at the Milton Theatre. (Submitted photo)

Tickets are $20-$25 and can be purchased at www.MiltonTheatre.com, via phone by calling 302-684-3038 or at the box office at 110 Union St.

This event is for ages 18 and over.

Return Day seeks entries

Organizers for this year’s Sussex County Return Day have been hard at work in advance of the Nov. 8 annual burying of the political hatchet in Georgetown and are looking for parade participants.

Civic or fraternal organizations, church, school, fire department, or other local groups are wanted. Entries can be floats, marching units, bands, or even a motorized grouping..

There are still openings for concessions, informational, arts and crafts, antiques and collectibles and entertainment booths.

Volunteers are also wanted for the event.

For more information or to get parade entry forms or vendor forms, call the Sussex County Return Day office at 302-855-0722 or visit www.returnday.com.

Each year the president of Return Day appoints a youth ambassador. This year he is Wyatt Warner.

His project of community service is to gather needed items for the Joshua House Ministries for the homeless. He asking for items such as; personal hygiene items, socks, gloves, bottled water, laundry detergent, tick repellent, and food items such as Pop-Tarts, pop-top cans of soup, cheese or peanut butter crackers and other easy open non-perishable items.

Gently used sweatshirts and coats are also sought. Items for this project can be dropped off at the Marvel Carriage Museum, 510 S. Bedford St., Georgetown.

5th Avenue jazz

The Smyrna Opera House will present An Evening of Intimate Jazz with 5th Avenue Saturday night.

The $40 ticket price includes dinner, catered by Main Street Market, and music.

With a mix of selections from the The Great American Songbook, jazz classics and original works, 5th Avenue includes Ken Cicerale on alto saxophone/clarinet, Jeff Cooper on double bass and Ken Schleifer on drums/percussion.

Doors open at 6 p.m.

Tickets will not be sold at the door and must be purchased in advance. A bar will be available accepting cash and credit/debit.

For tickets, visit SmyrnaOperaHouse.org, call 653-4236 or visit the box office at 7 W. South St.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the suspense-thriller “Assassination Nation,” the romantic drama “Life Itself,” the Michael Moore political documentary “Fahrenheit 11/9” and the sci-fi fantasy “The House with a Clock in its Walls.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the basketball comedy “Uncle Drew” and John Travolta in “Gotti.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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