Firefly Music Festival wraps up another year

Nathan Bonn, Drew Johnson, Samantha Schlundt, Austin Market, and Leanne Bahn in The Nook area at Firefly Music Festival at the Woodlands in Dover Delaware on Sunday, June 17, 2018. Special to the Delaware State News/Matt Urban.

DOVER — By most accounts, the seventh annual Firefly Music Festival was another exciting time for attendees, but it’s always a bittersweet moment for concertgoers once Delaware’s largest annual festival is over.

“This year was a lot of fun,” said Mardi Celli. “I hate when it ends. This is my fifth year attending the event and I had just as much fun as I did this year as when I came here the first time.”

The crowd size at Firefly peaked at a sold-out 90,000 in 2015 when Paul McCartney played the festival. Last year’s crowd was noticeably down with an estimated 60,000 attending throughout the four days.

Even though Firefly officials haven’t officially commented on this year’s attendance, Mrs. Celli felt this year was one of the biggest crowds yet.

“This year it seemed like it was more packed than it’s ever been,” said the Pennsylvania resident. “It just felt different than what it did last year.”

Lil’ Wayne performs at the Firefly stage at Firefly Music Festival at the Woodlands in Dover Delaware on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (Special to the Delaware State News/Matt Urban)

Wilmington native Freddy Shields shared the same sentiment.

“It felt the same as it usually does,” Mr. Shields said. “When we were in there it felt packed. It felt like there were a lot of people in there. I’m not sure as what the numbers are, but it did feel like there were more people in there than last year.”

Fan surveys have, in recent years, determined acts, attractions and improvements around the grounds.

This year, fans determined that the Pathway portion of the festival should have a constellation theme.

“That was something that I did notice different at Firefly this year,” Ms. Celli said. I think it’s pretty cool that they’re listening to their fans to improve the festival.”

But some of the changes such as Firefly charging for parking were one of the negatives about this year’s festival for some concertgoers.

Terror Jr performs at The Firefly stage at Firefly Music Festival at the Woodlands in Dover Delaware on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Special to the Delaware State News/Matt Urban.)

“That was different.” Mr. Shields said. “That was always one of the great aspect about Firefly. It was free and if you found a good spot you were able to get in and out to beat the traffic once the festival was over.” I get what they were trying to do but if you’re going to charge for parking I feel as though it should have been more convenient, but that wasn’t the case.”

Arctic Monkeys headlined this year’s event on Friday, Eminem Saturday and Kendrick Lamar Sunday.

Other acts on the bill included The Killers, Lil Wayne, Big Gigantic, Logic, Odesza, SZA and Jimmy Eat World.

The lineup at this year’s festival is what finally drew Smyrna resident Stephen Eashum to attend Firely for the first time.

“I liked the previous lineups, but just never actually went,” Mr. Eashum said. “I went on Saturday and it was one of the best times that I had in my life. Everyone put on a great show. The Lil Wayne show was great. He’s one of my favorites.

“But obviously the big headliner was Eminem and he didn’t disappoint. It was a once in a lifetime experience watching him perform. He even said during his performance that this has got to be the most people he’s ever seen in his entire life. The crowd was insane for him.”

But for Mr. Shields, who’s been at the festival for the last seven years, said he felt the festival needs to have more variety of performers moving forward.

“I think everyone did a great job,” Mr. Shields said. “But I will say this year it felt as though my friends and I were a little unfamiliar with some of the smaller acts.

Kendrick Lamar played the Dover event in 2013 while Arctic Monkeys performed in 2014.

“I think Firefly is at weird place where they haven’t found their niche yet,” Mr. Shields said. “Each year there seems to be a more focus on one thing, but it hasn’t been consistent over the years. There’s been a little bit of pop and techno, more hip-hop acts, but what is their staple or trademark that they’re gong to be known for that people can count on being at the festival every year?”

Mr. Eashum said there’s always room for improvement.

“For my first time going my experience was awesome,” Mr. Eashum said. If I had any suggestions I think it would be to add bigger Wifi spots in the area. I literally couldn’t send anything all day or night to anyone.

“The underage drinking is pretty big problem as well. I’ve seen a lot of underage kids drinking, but stopping that would be hard. I just hope they find a way to combat the problem the best way that they can. But other than that I think they do a great job of putting the festival together. It was really fun.”

Mr. Shields said he has faith that Firefly will continue to get better each year, as he plans on continuing to carry on his tradition of attending the annual event.

“My friends and I look forward to it,” Mr. Shields said. ‘It’s that one time of the year where we all get a chance to hang out. “We’ve been doing this for the past seven years. Hopefully one day we can start bringing our kids and they can enjoy the experience and hopefully we can start another tradition.”

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