Before the music, Firefly fans stock up at liquor stores

DOVER — The foot traffic before 10 a.m. was steady and sure to increase by the afternoon.

Dipa Patel was living a business owner’s dream Thursday morning at Raceway Liquors.

For the second time in three weeks — NASCAR first, then Firefly — thirsty visitors made buying booze a priority.

The liquor store on U.S. 13, situated just a quick drive or short walk away from the sixth annual Firefly Music Festival scene, was a must stop for many.

While both events draw thousands of potential customers to the area, Ms. Patel said the Firefly crowd was “a little more” prevalent.

“We’re always excited for any big weekend,” Ms. Patel said. “We will take the business like this for as long as possible, though I do wish we had a week in-between.”

Angelica Ippolito, left, and Gaia Simmonds load up the back of their car with beer at Raceway Liquor in Dover before heading to Firefly on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Craft beers were the most pulled items from store coolers, according to Ms. Patel, followed by IPAs and hard liquor.

The mostly 20-something patrons — most wearing shorts and T-shirts, sandals, flops or tennis shoes — were typically amiable as the musical experience opened.

“I would say 95 percent of them are no problem,” Ms. Patel said. “There may be a few that cause some trouble, but there will always be a few bad ones in any crowd.”

Indeed, Ms. Patel estimated that between 200 and 300 fake identification cards were confiscated from would-be underage drinkers in 2016.

On Thursday an undercover Delaware Department of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement agent frequently entered and exited the liquor store for checks and said he was “staying busy.” Ms. Patel reported that at least one criminal summons was issued by mid-morning.

According to Kent County court records, 19 misdemeanor entering a liquor establishment unlawfully arrests were made Wednesday. One case involved alleged possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. There were 13 females and 6 males cited and processed through Justice of the Peace Court 7 in Dover.

Three ofthose arrested were from Delaware — Townsend, Bear, and Wilmington — while the rest were from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Ohio and Maryland. Three addresses were not listed and some cases were described as pending.

Just a few minutes after arriving in Dover on Thursday, Pennsylvanians Vinnie Soster of Media and Steve Sauce of Haverton were icing a case of Coors Light in the back of a Ford pickup truck.

His fourth Firefly visit just beginning, Mr. Soster described the area surrounding The Woodlands music venue as “pretty easy to get around. You’ve got the McDonald’s, the Acme, everything you need. It’s all close by and easy to get to.”

Simply put, Mr. Sauce said he came to the extravaganza for “the music.”

According to Mr. Sauce, “the atmosphere is pretty laid back and cool.”

Attending Firefly for the first time on the recommendation of a friend, Caitlin Kolb of Bowie, Maryland, said “he just loves it, so I’m so glad I could come along this time.

“I’m thrilled to be here.”

Ms. Kolb made a 90-minute trip from Prince George’s County to Dover on Wednesday and spent her first night in the campground. The music from more than 140 groups hadn’t yet cranked up, but she was having a ball.

“Everyone around us last night seemed like friends,” she said. “We were hanging out, having a few drinks, talking and sitting around together,” she said. “It’s just a good vibe.”

After leaving Brooklyn, New York at 2 a.m., which she described as “ridiculously early,” Nicole Garay said she had “zero problems” getting to Dover at around 7 a.m. She and a friend from Staten Island, New York, were in town to see rap artist T-Pain first and foremost, but planned to take in an array of musicians through Sunday.

Kentst Cazeau barely slowed down as he ferried passengers calling for Uber (the more popular by about 2 to 1) and Lyft services. He reported earning $132 on eight trips from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., shattering his original goal of making $100 all day. The only thing that stopped him was reporting to work at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino at 3 p.m.

“It’s been nonstop since I started,” a smiling Mr. Cazeau said before cutting short an interview when another call for service arrived.

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