Firefly changes hands; 2019 dates announced

The band Foster the People performs on the main stage at this year’s Firefly Music Festival in Dover. (Delaware State News file photo/Matt Urban)

DOVER — Next year’s Firefly Music Festival will take place June 21-23 under a new agreement with entertainment giant AEG Presents.

AEG Presents, already a majority holder in Firefly, has acquired the remaining ownership shares of the festival held for the past seven years at The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway.

As part of the acquisition of shares formerly held by Red Frog Events, a Chicago-based event company, AEG Presents will also take over the promotion and production of the festival.

AEG Presents is the concert promoter behind events such as Coachella and Stagecoach in Southern California, Panorama Festival in New York City and 8,000 concerts a year.

Officials say AEG Presents decided to expand its ownership stake and role in the festival following this year’s Firefly, held June 14-17, and Red Frog Events’ desire to shift its focus to other events and services.

This year’s Firefly Music Festival saw headliners Eminem, Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar and The Killers.

“From day one, we have always believed that Firefly is one of North America’s most special festivals,” said Melissa Ormond, chief operating officer of festivals with AEG Presents.

“Combined with the full commitment of AEG Presents’ resources, including an unrivaled production team committed exclusively to festivals, there is no doubt that the best is yet to come for the Firefly Music Festival.”

As part of the acquisition, several members of the core team of people who have managed Firefly since its inception have joined AEG Presents, including Stephanie Mezzano, Firefly director and one of the festival’s founders. In 2011, Ms. Mezzano helped bring Firefly to Dover.

“We have developed a strong relationship with AEG Presents over the past several years and I am thrilled to officially join the AEG Presents team, along with several members of the group that has built the festival since day one,” she said.

“We now have the opportunity to push Firefly in exciting ways and to work more closely with the best in the business.”

As part of the transition, AEG Presents also announced that Alicia Karlin, a vice president and senior event producer for Madison House Presents (operated in partnership with AEG Presents), will become Firefly’s talent buyer.

“We had one of the best years in Firefly’s history and had an opportunity to sell our interest to AEG, allowing us to focus on growth opportunities outside of music festivals,” said Joe Reynolds, founder and CEO of Red Frog Events, in a statement on Wednesday.

“Red Frog has been known for being innovators in the event industry, having pioneered the obstacle course racing industry with Warrior Dash, and launching one of the most successful music festivals in the country with Firefly, which we now leave in good hands with AEG. We’re confident Firefly is going to be successful for years to come and we’re excited to focus Red Frog’s efforts on innovating new segments within the event industry.”

In 2013, Red Frog Events secured a 10-year agreement to hold Firefly at Dover International Speedway.
Speedway spokesman Gary Camp said Wednesday that the new arrangement would have no effect on that deal.

“Since our first meeting with Red Frog Events eight years ago when they shared their concept with us, we’ve enjoyed a terrific collaborative relationship. Firefly Music Festival has quickly become one of the top-tier music festivals in the country, and we are appreciative of their commitment to our community,” said Mike Tatoian, president and CEO of Dover International Speedway.

“Now with a world-class company like AEG further involved, we’re confident the festival will continue to deliver an amazing experience for music fans from around the world for years to come.”

Next year’s dates for Firefly are a week later than the last few years when it has been held on Father’s Day weekend. It will also go back to being a three-day festival instead of four as it has been since 2014.

The date change appears to be made so it wouldn’t compete with the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee, which changed their dates to June 13-16 so as to not overlap the CMA Fest in Nashville.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is an annual music and arts festival held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California in the Colorado Desert. It was co-founded in 1999 and is organized by Goldenvoice, a subsidiary of AEG.

Goldenvoice entered into a joint venture with Red Frog Events to promote and produce the Firefly Music Festival in 2014, leading to the appearance of Paul McCarney in 2015, when the festival had its first sellout. It was the only year that Firefly did not offer one-day tickets for sale.

Stagecoach is the highest-grossing festival centered on country music in the world while Panorama, set for July 27-29, boasts headliners The Weeknd, Janet Jackson and The Killers this year.

The Weeknd headlined Firefly last year while The Killers made their third appearance at Firefly this year.

 

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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