Last year’s dust is gone with the wind; this year it’s a Firefly mud fest

From left, Firefly Music Festival fans Madeline DoNatto, 18, Natalie Bock, 17, and Lucy Mernit, 17 all of Baltimore, try to navigate their way across a muddy pathway Friday. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

From left, Firefly Music Festival fans Madeline DoNatto, 18, Natalie Bock, 17, and Lucy Mernit, 17 all of Baltimore, try to navigate their way across a muddy pathway Friday. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — After a rainy week, Firefly Music Festival was off to an unmistakably muddy start.

The sun dried some of the puddles Friday, but along the walkways, there still were quagmires of thick, black mud, trampled with thousands of footprints.

The mud was caked and dried on festival-goers up to their ankles. Spare flip-flops were marooned in the slush.

“For me it hasn’t been too bad,” said Matthew Getch, who was relaxing outside the Style Your Sole Tent, where artists were painting TOMS shoes.

“It’s kind of fun to see people jump around in it.”

And at least the grounds aren’t the big dust bowl they were last year, he said.

“Most people wear sandals, so it’s fine,” he added.

Officials said the area where they cleared out the trees in 2014 didn’t have time for grass to grow — that, plus 80,000 people and no rain, caused the dust.

This year, attendees had the opposite problem.

Red Frog Events music festival director Greg Bostrom said that Firefly was like a big family reunion in the capital of the First State during a Friday press conference at The Woodlands. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Red Frog Events music festival director Greg Bostrom said that Firefly was like a big family reunion in the capital of the First State during a Friday press conference at The Woodlands. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Some said they’d prefer the dust to the mud. People have “said it was better last year,” said Ben Mosely, whose shoes had gotten stuck in the mud.

“It sucked a whole lot,” said Kayla Puerz. She said she’d seen people get stuck in mud and fall “completely on the ground,” and campsites have flooded.

“You guys asked for no dust, so we got you a ton of mud,” joked Greg Bostrom, festival director for the Chicago-based Red Frog Events,

He said that crews worked overnight, “all hands on deck,” at The Woodlands, fighting the mud with gravel, sand and mulch.

Some thunderstorms may be in the forecast for this weekend, but Mr. Bostrom said that if there is a problem with the weather, officials have “great plans in place.”

“We’re constantly monitoring the weather,” he said.

Too many is too much

Theresa Krout and daughter Jess Staub, both of New Freedom, Pennsylvania, arrived in Kent County Friday afternoon eager to head to The Woodlands for a date with Sir Paul McCartney. Four hours later they were back on the road, heading north, tired and a bit disillusioned that their VIP tickets didn’t match expectations.

“Maybe I expected more,” said Ms. Krout, “than what the Firefly organizers intended.”

It wasn’t just that he VIP parking lacked signs, or that it was farther from the venue than the map on the Firefly app implied, or that the promised complimentary water and soda were nonexistent.

“I was worried about our safety,” she said.

The VIP tickets, at $695 each, came with special parking that appeared on a map to be in the shadow of Dover International Speedway. The two followed directions from a guide who pointed them to a grassy area.

“I walk three miles a day,” Ms. Krout said, and based on the 30-minute plus walk, “It was a good mile and half.”

Their tickets also came with complimentary water and soda but two vendors told them they were out of water.

“They ran out of water,” Ms. Staub said, “but they had plenty of alcohol.”

And while their tickets supposedly came with seats, it appeared to the two women that those, too, would be in short supply.

In hindsight, Ms. Krout wondered just how many VIP tickets were purchased and if perhaps more were sold than the space could accommodate.

The kicker came when they saw how many people were filing into the VIP area in front of the stage. Ms. Krout described it as potentially “being trapped in a mosh pit.”

The problem, as the two women saw it, was the VIP area didn’t have its own entrance or barrier. They feared what would happen once 90,000 people crowded toward the stage.

“We would have been better off buying the regular ticket,” Ms. Krout said. That way they could have been on the fringe and able to move more freely.

News editor K.I. White contributed to this article; she can be reached at 741-8233 or kwhite@newszap.com.

Liam Ridings, 18, of York, Pa., keeps his eyes on his smartphone and not the mud path he's following. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Liam Ridings, 18, of York, Pa., keeps his eyes on his smartphone and not the mud path he’s following. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

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