Firefly notebook: Music Festival organizers keep an eye on the weather

DOVER — Thursday and Friday’s weather turned out to be ideal for the Firefly Music Festival — mid-70s to mid-80 both days and mostly sunny despite forecast rain.

Last year’s event got its start with heavy rains just before the opening that turned much of The Woodlands into a mud pit. In 2015, downpours and high winds from Tropic Storm Bill forced Firefly organizers to evacuate the venue just before 10 p.m. on Saturday — leading to several performance cancellations and postponements of headline acts.

As of this Friday evening, the forecast for the Dover area puts chances of scattered thunderstorms at 60 percent today and 50 percent on Sunday. Red Frog Events, the company that runs Firefly, has been monitoring the weather to plan and execute a response if needed.

“We’re working closely with meteorologists, police, security and medical officials to monitor radar and make the best decisions regarding the safety and security of our festival goers,” said Michael Coco, senior director of operations with Red Frog Events. “We will continue to monitor weather closely and keep everyone updated via social media and the Firefly App.”

Davey Havok, lead singer of the band AFI, rocked the Firefly main stage Friday afternoon. (Special to the Delaware State News/Jon Lloyd Jr.)

Rickshaw rides to and from the gates

The location of campgrounds and parking lots by the Dover International Speedway can offer quite a walk to the Firefly festival grounds — about 1.5 miles at some stretches. However, a healthy cycle rickshaw presence has made this trip much faster for visitors willing to shell out a few dollars for a ride. Many of the rickshaws, also known as pedicabs, are kitted out with radios for riders’ entertainment.

Matt Soha, a rickshaw driver who came in from Columbus, Ohio, for the event, said the rides are “open fare” and he’s able to get between $5 to $15 per ride.

As an independent contractor, Mr. Soha was responsible for trailering in his rickshaw from Ohio before the event started — but that’s not unusual for someone in the profession.

“This is what I do for a living. I work all over the United States and all sorts of events so I am always on the road,” he said. “This is my fourth year working Firefly.

In the festival heat and humidity staying hydrated is essential for everyone — this is especially true if you’re working up a sweat. Many cycle rickshaws can carry up to three people and cap out at around a 550 pound weight limit. Repeatedly cycling with a fully loaded rickshaw up hill will certainly cause some perspiration.

Many of the drivers have small coolers with water bottles affixed to their vehicles and some wear portable hydration packs on their backs. Mr. Soha says he’s a bit of an anomaly, though.

“I don’t need water, really — I just drink coffee all day,” he said. “Ocassionally, I’ll even be working in the desert and all I need is one bottle of water for the day and I’m fine.”

Art in The Woodlands

Firefly Music Festival is annually home to an art installation, this year the theme was “Jellyfish.” A wooded path that leads from the Lawn Stage to the Backyard Stage in The Woodlands features large inflatable jellyfish and aquatic invertebrates hanging from the trees. However, at the opening of the Lawn Stage side, there is some live artistry happening as well.

Collin Salazar

Collin Salazar, 24, visiting from Los Angeles, has been hard at work on a large mural since the festival started on Thursday. He calls the artwork “The Eyes of Firefly.” It will likely be completed some time between tonight and Sunday morning, he said. Last year when Mr. Salazar attended the festival he manned a booth where he sold paintings, prints and merchandise, but not liking to stand around he proposed some “live art” to Red Frog Events this year.

“I gave them a full six-page proposal about installation, lighting, budget and everything for the mural,” he said. “They were excited about it and we worked together and got it done.”

Mr. Salazar said Red Frog Events will keep the mural upon completion.

“It’s basically a giant commission. They paid for it — between $2,500 and $3,500, which is typical for something like this,” he said. “It will stay here at Firefly afterward. They’ll probably store it here.”

Mr. Salazar said he enjoys painting in front of a crowd and absorbs inspiration from the “energy” of the crowd.

“I love it,” he said. “On Thursday night I was just working and I turned around and there was like 50 people sitting on blankets behind me all of a sudden, watching me. I was like: ‘Woah! Hi, howya doin?”

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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