Gates open for a Firefly weekend: Amillion the Poet hits the stage

Amillion the Poet of Dover performs on the Backyard stage at Firefly Music Festival at the Woodlands of Dover on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Thousands upon thousands of music lovers found their happy place when the gates to the seventh annual Firefly Music Festival at The Woodlands in Dover swung open at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Perhaps nobody was happier or more thrilled to be at Firefly than Dover’s own Amillion the Poet, who fulfilled his own long-running dream when he took the Backyard stage with his band.

Amillion was the second artist to perform at this year’s music festival when he began rapping under hot, sunny skies at 5:45, just 15 minutes after Parker got things started at the Pavilion.

Amillion began his performance with the video board behind him reading, “CongratsAmillion #Road2Firefly.” He implored the crowd to move closer to the stage, so they could enjoy the moment just as much as he was.

Nearly 10 songs and 45 minutes later, Amillion the Poet exited to an awaiting golf cart covered in sweat from a hard-working performance.

“It felt like everything,” Amillion said. “We’ve been performing a lot, but this is the big home game. I’ve been around the world three times to be here and I’m glad for every mile — it was worth it.

“A lot of my friends don’t get to go to the (United Kingdom) and Amsterdam or even Atlanta, so it just felt good to do it for home at home.”

Spectators cheer rapper Amillion the Poet as he performs on the Backyard stage at Firefly Music Festival at the Woodlands of Dover on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

By the time the four-day Firefly Music Festival comes to its conclusion many other bands — and spectators — will also get the chance to live out their dreams.

When Odesza plays its last song at around midnight on Sunday, more than 100 bands and artists will have taken to the eight Fire-fly stages, including rapper Eminem, The Killers, Foster the People and Arctic Monkeys.

“This is my happy place,” said Sarah Thompson, from Allentown, Pennsylvania, who is camping with some friends at Firefly. “Firefly means the start of summer for me.

“The bands, the atmosphere — all of the things you see that you don’t normally see — it’s always a blast. It’s definitely my happy place.”

Jerome Fisher made the nearly three-hour trek to Dover from Washington, D.C., with a couple of his friends for his first Firefly.

Two girls show off their fashion trends at the 2018 Firefly Music Festival at the Woodlands of Dover on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“We’re here for the music. We’re here for every artist,” Mr. Fisher said. “We’re here for Chicano Batman, we’re here for Eminem … we’re here for a lot of folks.

“We’re camping out right up the road. The vibe is very friendly. All of our neighbors are right there beside us and we’re all communicating and it’s really cool.”

Mr. Fisher added, “Everything here is very close quarters. We’ve been cooking some burgers and we share with our neighbors and everything. They’re eating good and we’re eating good.”

Newark’s Audrey Jungling was watching Amillion the Poet alongside her daughter Morgan Jungling on Thursday afternoon. She said it was just the beginning of a wonderful four-day journey.

“I’m excited,” Ms. Jungling said. “This is my third year. Firefly is special to me because it allows me to spend some good times with my daughter and we get to hang out together. It’s always a lot of fun for us.”

There aren’t any wholesale changes to this year’s Firefly Music Festival, as the layout is basically the same around the 850-acre complex. But there have been a couple of subtle changes.

Gone is the Beercade, which in past years incorporated brew and arcade games.

The games have moved to The Brewery run by Dogfish Head near the main stage.

Newark-based Rainbow Records will have a pop-up shop next to The Brewery for the first time at the festival.

Formerly the Hammock Hangout, the Nook will feature a giving library, encouraging folks to bring a book and take a book with them.

August Pagel takes a selfie with his friends Dylan Bendix and Austin Tierney in front of the Firefly sign at the Woodlands of Dover on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The biggest change to the setting of the various eight stages from past years is a new location for the Porch stage around the middle of the grounds at the site of the old Coffehouse stage.

The Coffeehouse has been moved to where the Beercade used to be in the southwest corner of the grounds in order to provide a more intimate feel.

The National Weather Service said festival-goers should experience near-perfect weather conditions all weekend in Dover, as there is no chance of rain on the horizon with temperatures expected to hover at around 80 degrees.

Officials with the Delaware Department of Transportation said that motorists near Dover Downs should expect high traffic volumes throughout the festival.

According to DelDOT, its Transportation Management Center staff, in coordination with the Dover Police Department and Delaware State Police, will monitor traffic in and around the Dover vicinity to ensure safe travel for motorists.

Festivalgoers enter the 2018 Firefly Music Festival at the Woodlands of Dover on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Meanwhile, the crowded and colorful campgrounds surrounding The Woodlands came to life on Thursday with soccer and cornhole games, barbecue grilling, Frisbee throwing and a nice chance to catch up or just hang out and people watch.

“This is a place where you never quite know what you’re going to see,” said Jacob Rawley, of Havre de Grace, Maryland. “So, you’d better try your best not to close your eyes because you might miss something.”

Festival-goers probably shouldn’t close their ears either, or they might miss the “next big thing” up on one of the stages.

 

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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