Fourth mostly canceled but First Friday brings options in Dover

Professional fiddler Nate Grower will join the growing roster of musicians casually performing in downtown Dover at First Friday. He will be performing at My Roots off Loockerman Street in downtown Dover from 4 until 7 p.m. on Friday. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — While traditional Fourth of July events, such as the mega-popular fireworks display near Legislative Hall, have been canceled this year due to COVID-19, the Downtown Dover Partnership will be hosting a bevy of events for First Friday in July.

The DDP is set to provide low-key alternative entertainment rain or shine Friday from 4 until 7 p.m. on Loockerman and adjacent streets in downtown Dover with a variety of arts and music programming, a merchant window-decorating contest and a caricature artist offering free images.

Businesses are excited to welcome shoppers into their refreshed shops, including Tina Hudson-Beamer of Tina’s Timeless Threads, who has added new vintage props and opened up the interior space by removing a wall that now brings “borrowed” natural light.

“Keep an eye out for buskers playing music outside of several shops, including a saxophonist, a flutist, a keyboardist and several guitarist/singer/songwriters, and professional fiddler Nate Grower, who will join the growing roster of First Friday musicians casually performing in downtown Dover,” said Diane Laird, executive director of the DDP.

Mrs. Laird is especially excited to bring Seaford artist Jim Rehak back to First Friday.

“Jim is a known artist in the region, with skills in comic book illustration, portrait and caricature art, art directing, teaching and freelance court illustration,” she said. “He also painted in the DDP’s downtown plein-air (outdoor) painting event last October.

“Jim will be set up at SoZo, 123 Loockerman St., from 4 until 7 p.m. and will provide free, quick caricatures on a first-come, first-served basis. Bring along a memento of your favorite hobby, sport or other interest to go into the sketches.”

Jim Rehak

Tina Bradbury, operations manager for the DDP, added that there will be a couple ways the community can continue to support downtown merchants this weekend.

“First, the DDP Merchants Committee invites you to get your brand-new ‘Capital Key’ card and fob to unlock value while shopping in downtown Dover,” Mrs. Bradbury said. “The program will feature specials and promotions in many downtown shops, not only this weekend, but throughout the year, keeping the program evergreen.”

Merchants will offer freebies, comeback coupons, specials on new products and other values. Those interested can pick up a card at participating shops beginning this Friday and at the DDP headquarters at 101 W. Loockerman St. in the Cendel Office building.

“Shoppers can also support merchants by purchasing a Dover Strong T-shirt or notecards, with special pricing on First Friday and throughout the holiday weekend,” said Mrs. Bradbury.

“T-shirts will be $15 each and packets of 10 Dover Strong notecards at three for $20. Proceeds benefit downtown Dover merchants.”

The T-shirts and notecards can be purchased at 101 W. Loockerman St., Suite 1-A, on First Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. or by visiting tinyurl.com/doverstrongmerchants.

DDP officials added that keeping downtown colorfully decorated is important to merchants, and community members are encouraged to vote for their favorite decorated store window displaying the “Summertime in America!” theme. To vote, visit tinyurl.com/doverwindows from Friday through July 20.

Listed below are the participating stores, restaurants and entertainment offerings that are part of First Friday from 4 until 7 p.m., with some venues open later than 7:

BnL Restaurant: Enjoy live music by William Thomas Moore Bentley, while enjoying Dom’s First Friday-only burger specials.

Forney’s Too: Singer/songwriter Rick Hudson on guitar and harmonica with a focus on blues, old-time country and contemporary pieces.

Grey Fox: Stop in for a bite to eat, with table service on the deck and inside, while enjoying live music by Darren O’Neill on the deck, beginning at 5:30.

House of Coffi: Jazz saxophonist Grady O’Connor accompanied by his backing track. Open until 8.

Maxine’s Fashions: Open until 7.

My Roots: Featuring fiddler Nate Grower. Mr. Grower tours internationally with David Bromberg and has mastered the art of bluegrass fiddle with his fiery solos and rhythmic backup. Open until 7.

Parke Green Galleries: Open until 7.

Puffster: Open until 10.

SoZo: Jim Rehak providing quick, fun caricatures on a first-come, first-served basis, alongside flutist Tyasia Cannon performing from 4 until 7.

That Ish Boutique: Open until 7.

Tina’s Timeless Threads: Keyboardist Samuel Mace performing. Open until 8.

Zuha Trend: Open until 7.

All venues are supporting social distancing requirements, and masks must be worn according to state requirements. This program is subject to last-minute changes in performers and venues.

Funding for First Friday is being provided by the Downtown Dover Partnership, with portions of the program provided by a generous grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.