BEST BETS: Stonesifer tunes up for OktDoverFest

The Brothers Stonesifer, made up of, from left, Craig, Mark and Todd, will perform at Saturday’s OktDoverFest. (Submitted photo)

Todd Stonesifer is committed to seeing downtown Dover grow and prosper. So he’s using his time and considerable talents to see that happen.

As a founding member of the group Destination Downtown Dover and a well-known local musician, Mr. Stonesifer is serving a dual purpose at Saturday’s OktDoverFest, sponsored by his nonprofit.

Not only he is helping to organize the mammoth block party on Loockerman Street but he’ll be performing with his Brothers Stonesifer, kicking off the day at 3 p.m.

A popular singer-songwriter around the Dover area for much of the 2000s, both as a solo act and with his own band, Mr. Stonesifer has not performed as regularly in recent years due to his busy real estate career and family life.

Appropriately, one of his most recent appearances was with his brother Craig at History, Heritage and Hops in 2015, the first event put on by Destination Downtown Dover, also on Loockerman Street.

“I don’t do it a lot anymore. I have a 3-year-old, which keeps me busy as well,” he said.

But this is a cause near and dear to him so he’ll dust off his guitar and bring Craig and other brother Mark along for the ride.

“It’s fun to get to do it every once in a while. After that, it becomes a job and I already have one of those,” he joked.

His Destination Downtown Dover group produces History, Heritage and Hops the same day as the Dover Days Festival and OktDoverFest, a play off of the Bavarian custom of Oktoberfest — only this one celebrating all things Dover — as a way to raise money to help beautify and enrich the area.

“We want to bring a bunch of people downtown and let them the see that it’s not the big, scary place that it’s often portrayed as,” Mr. Stonesifer said.

The first couple of events raised enough money to get Loockerman Street power washed from State Street to Governors Avenue.

The following year, as a way to make their investment last a bit longer, the idea, which sprang from a field trip to Lititz, Pennsylvania, was to buy blue-and-white “Open for Business” flags for area stores to display when they are indeed open.

“The flags have the intention to guard against the ‘Missing Tooth Syndrome.’ When a pedestrian walks out of a store and sees that the next store is vacant, they have a tendency to walk back to their car and leave,” Mr. Stonesifer said.

“With the flags, they may walk another 10 or 20 feet, past the missing tooth and into the next store with the flag.”

Although he has no quantitative measure of their success, Mr. Stonesifer said the flags have been a hit with both merchants and visitors.

“They look great and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. We’ve had four or five different businesses spring up lately and we hope to have a few more peek through that magical curtain. I can’t tell you that the flags are the sole reason but they’ve certainly added something to the area.”

There are two ideas for the proceeds from this year’s events.

“If you look around the area of the Delaware Store and Parke Green Galleries from the State Street, North Street and The Green area, they have these big flower pots out front. It just makes that area look so much more alive,” Mr. Stonesifer said.

The group is also weighing a second option of rooftop lighting along Loockerman Street.

“To have all of the roofs draped in this string of lights is a really cool effect and we hope it would have the effect of bringing down the crime,” Mr. Stonesifer said.

“We have yet to have a conversation with the city on that one though.”

Mr. Stonesifer said Destination Downtown Dover is a small group of local entrepreneurs who aren’t affiliated with any government entities and can therefore be more proactive in addressing concerns.

“We have less red tape and the ability to get things down more quickly than the Downtown Dover Partnership although we have less clout. But we do try to get some things off of their table,” he said of the 20-plus member group that contains city, county and state officials along with private citizens, including himself.

The two groups, along with the First State Heritage Park, work together to produce the monthly First Friday events on Loockerman Street.

Along with the Brothers Stonesifer, music for Saturday’s OktDoverFest will be provided by the ska group The Bullbuckers and popular party band The Funsters.

The free, family event will include a Mobile Cloud gaming truck, caricature artist Bill Cox, mentalist Dan Cain, magician Charlie Joseph, a 4 p.m. Sam Adams stein hoisting competition in front of 33 West, a tug of war contest between Dover Air Force Base airmen and the Dover Police Department, face painting, kids activities and store specials.

Food and drink will be plentiful with six food vendors including Mojo Loco, Kapow, Haass’ on the Go, Aunt Mary’s Kitchen, 33 West and Angelo’s Pizza; and three dessert vendors in White and Associates, Tre Sorelle Dolce and La Baguette.

Fourteen craft breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries will be in attendance including 16 Mile, Big Oyster, Blue Earl, Fordham and Dominion, Yards, Mispillion, Painted Stave, 3rd Wave, Rubber Soul, Tall Tales, Hoop Tea, Great American Wine Company and Bold Rock Cider.

Unlimited craft beer and cider full-pour bracelets are available for $47 or single full-pours for $5 each. Wine and spirits are $5 for a full pour.

Advance beer tickets can be bought at EventBrite.com.

Depending on the weather, Mr. Stonesifer expects between 3,000 and 5,000 visitors to OktDoverFest throughout the day.

Mr. Stonesifer’s looking forward to performing and being part of the day.

“Craig will bring his country sensibility. I’ll bring my classic rock, jam band influence and Mark will hold us together with his drumming. It should be fun,” he said.

Oktoberfest in Smyrna

The Dover German American Club will hold a more traditional Oktoberfest at Sam’s Picnic Grounds Saturday at 711 Blackbird Forest Road, Smyrna.

The day will include food vendors, BYOB, bratwurst, pretzels, cakes and a festive Bavarian atmosphere.

Admission is $5. Pay at the event.

For more information, call 492-3980.

Arsenio in Dover tonight

As we told you earlier this month, comedian and former talk show host Arsenio Hall will bring his standup act to Dover Downs Hotel and Casino’s Rollins Center tonight at 9.

Along with his show, which ran from 1989 to 1994 and then again in the 2013-14 season, Mr. Hall is known for his

Actor, comedian and former talk show host Arsenio Hall brings his standup act to Dover Downs’ Rollins Center Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. (Submitted photo)

movie roles in “Coming to America” and “Harlem Nights,” as the winner of the fifth season of “The Celebrity Apprentice” and his current gig co-hosting the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner radio show on Mondays.

He’ll also appear on the ABC show “The Mayor” this fall.

As he told the Delaware State News two weeks ago, Mr. Hall talks about a host of topics in his act.

“I love to talk about what’s current so I talk about everything from my son to DACA,” he said.

“What I read today, I’ll take out on stage tomorrow.”

Tickets for Mr. Hall’s Dover Downs show can be purchased by visiting doverdowns.com or calling VIP Services at (800) 711-5882.

Prices range from $35 to $55.

Danika and The Jeb

Saturday night sees the duo Danika and The Jeb perform at the Smyrna Opera House.

Danika Holmes is a songwriter who was almost a doctor. Jeb Hart is a guitar aficionado who owns and operates his own guitar instruction company. Together they form a soulful combination of acoustic pop and blues

They have opened for mainstream heavyweights such as Lyle Lovett, Dierks Bentley, Phil Vassar and others.

Tickets for the show are $16 for general admission, $14 for Opera House members, seniors and military and $8 for children 12 and under.

To purchase them, visit www.smyrnaoperahouse.org, call 653-4236 or stop by the box office at 7 W. South St., Smyrna.

Country and Bluegrass Fest

Milton Memorial Park is the site of the Country and Bluegrass Festival Saturday with music from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Admission is free and bring your own lawn chairs or blankets for sitting on the grass. The Milton Lions Club will have its train running for kids of all ages. Members will also be serving their famous funnel cakes. The Holy Smokers of Goshen Church will be barbecuing fresh chicken for hot lunches and take-home dinners.

The music starts off country with The Pros from Dover performing the first set at 11 a.m. Bluegrass kicks off at 12:30 p.m. with The Delmarva Ramblers.

The Timmons Family Band takes the stage at 2 p.m. followed by Buffalo Chip and the Heard at 3:30 and TyDewater at 5 p.m.

Admission is free.

In the event of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the Milton Fire Department.

Brews by the Bay

The Delaware Brewers Guild will hold its annual fundraiser, Brews by the Bay, at the Big Chill Beach Club on Saturday.

Located in the Delaware Seashore State Park near Bethany, the Big Chill Beach Club will host all of the state’s breweries for the only Delaware beer festival focusing exclusively on local beer. This year, the brewers will be serving primarily small-batch beers and cask conditioned beers. Additionally, members of the Guild brewed a collaboration that will be served at the festival. This peach wheat style beer celebrates Delaware’s state dessert, the Peach Pie.

For music lovers, the guild has brought in local acts Federal Street Band and Clifford Keith.

The festival will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Entry to the event is $50 and includes parking and unlimited beer samples. For more information, visit delawarebrewersguild.org.

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is “The Lego Ninjango Movie 3D,” the horror film “Friend Request” and the action-adventure flick “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Transformers: The Last Knight” and “47 Meters Down.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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