Music and more around Dover International Speedway this weekend

The alternative rock band X Ambassadors will perform a free concert prior to Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. (Submitted photo)

The alternative rock band X Ambassadors will perform a free concert prior to Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. (Submitted photo)

Unless Mother Nature wins out, another NASCAR weekend is upon us at Dover International Speedway.

Aside from the usual racing action, there’s plenty to do around the track. Here’s a look at some of the activities:

The popular alternative band X Ambassadors will perform an 11 a.m. free concert before Sunday’s AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. X Ambassadors lead singer Sam Harris also will perform the national anthem prior to the start of the race.

The band’s No. 1 hit “Renegades” took just eight weeks to get to top spot on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. where it stayed for 10 consecutive weeks. It marks the quickest rise to the top of the Alternative Songs chart for a group’s first entry on the chart since 1998. Their debut, full-length album “VHS” was released on June 30 and debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

The Ithaca, New York, band consists of four members: Mr. Harris, Casey Harris, Noah Feldshuh and Adam Levin.

Best Bets logo CLEAR copySam and Casey Harris are brothers, and have been friends with Mr. Feldshuh since kindergarten in Ithaca. Sam met Mr. Levin while attending school in New York City in 2010.

The group continues to accumulate a passionate fan base spending the summer on the road touring with Milky Chance and gearing up for a fall headline tour. They recently appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Today” and “The View.”

The band’s appearance in Dover marks the second time this year it will be in Delaware; it also performed at the Firefly Music Festival on June 18. X Ambassadors had a busy summer, touring and playing music festivals around the country, including Firefly, Bonnaroo, Summerfest, Osheaga, Life is Beautiful and more.

Shortly after its visit to Dover International Speedway, the band will kick off a fall tour, zig zagging the country in support of its new album.

Saturday will see another free concert, this time by 18-year-old singer-songwriter Payton Taylor.

Originally from Turnersville, New Jersey, in 2013, she made Nashville her home and has been pursuing her craft in the heart of country music. She will perform a free concert on starting at 10:30 a.m. the Victory Plaza Stage and also will perform the national anthem prior to the start of the Hisense 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race.

A special highlight Sunday is the return of the Nathan’s Famous qualifying tour for the annual Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest Sunday.

The event, which is among more than a dozen contests that will be held in cities across the United States prior to the big contest, will take place at 12:30 p.m. in Victory Plaza.

Held last year during the fall race, the event will feature top-ranked eaters, including “The Lovely” Juliet Lee, a jellied cranberry sauce-eating expert, and the ninth-ranked eater in the world, and Brian “Dud Light” Dudzinsky, a corned beef sandwich and pepperoni roll veteran.

The top male and top female finishers will earn a spot to compete in the finals at the original Nathan’s Famous in Brooklyn, New York. In recent years, an estimated 35,000 fans have traveled to the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island on July 4 to watch the contest in person. The ESPN live telecast attracts millions of viewers each year.

This past July, Matt Stonie ended Joey Chestnut’s eight-year reign by eating 62 hot dogs, narrowly beating out Mr. Chestnut’s 60.

Those interested in competing in the qualifier should visit www.majorleagueeating.com. All competitors must be over 18 years of age.

The competition will be preceded by a question-and-answer session with NASCAR legend Richard Petty at 12:15 p.m.

Rosie Perez, an Academy Award-, Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated actress and choreographer, is the grand marshal for the AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Oct. 4.

Ms. Perez will give the command for the drivers to start their engines in what will be event No. 3 in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs.

After making her film debut in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” in 1989, Ms. Perez had starring roles in Ron Shelton’s “White Men Can’t Jump,” and Peter Weir’s “Fearless,” where she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She can next be seen opposite David Oyelowo in “Five Nights in Maine” which premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

Today’s rain has canceled the K&N Pro Series East autograph session that was supposed to start at 2 p.m.

Weather permitting, a number of NASCAR XFINITY drivers will also participate in a free autograph session beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Hisense display in the Dover FanZone.

One hundred and fifty wristbands will be distributed in advance, beginning at 9:30 a.m., at the Hisense display.

Anticipated drivers include Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon, Brian Scott, Ryan Reed, Chris Buescher, Darrell Wallace Jr., Regan Smith and 2014 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott. The session begins at 10:30 a.m.

And don’t forget about the Monster FunZone open throughout the weekend. It’s a family-friendly environment with activities such as interactive games, displays, a disc jockey, prize drawings and more. It’s located near the Monster Monument, outside of Turn 4.

For tickets or more information, call 800-441-RACE or visit DoverSpeedway.com.

Opera House doings

A couple of upcoming concerts at the Smyrna Opera House to take note of.

Oct. 9 sees Smyrna’s Jeremy Bursich with special guests Justin McNatt and local favorites Single Origin performing at the Smyrna Opera House  at 8 p.m.

Oscillating from sweet and sour tunes of brutally honest introspection to hard-hitting dissection of sociopolitical subjects,

Mr. Bursich portrays a wide and penetrative range of human experience. He has become notorious for his haunting sound and labyrinthine lyrics.

Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 members, senior citizens, military and children.

“Songwriters and Storytellers,” featuring Smyrna’s own Sol Knopf, Craig Bickhardt, Don Henry and Michael Johnson, willl be presented Saturday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m.

Mr. Knopf brings together this group of songwriters including Mr. Bickhardt, who has written four No. 1 country hits and nine top-10 hits, and Mr. Henry whose songs have been recorded by Ray Charles and Miranda Lambert.

Also performing is Mr. Johnson, who is best known for his hits “Bluer than Blue” and “This Night Won’t Last Forever”

Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 for members, senior citizens and military and $8 for children.

For tickets and more information, call (302) 653-4236, visit the box office at 7 W. South St., Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or smyrnaoperahouse.org.

‘Menagerie’ on hold

This weekend’s performances of “The Glass Menagerie” by the Kent County Theatre Guild have been canceled due a death in the family of one of the cast members.

Those with a reservation for tonight’s, Saturday’s or Sunday’s show will be contacted to reschedule the reservation to the following weekend when a Sunday show has been added.

Code Purple song

The mother and daughter team of Linda and Molly Lyon recently recorded a song to benefit Kent County’s Code Purple efforts. All proceeds form the song, recorded at Dover’s Digital Street Studios, will be given to Code Purple, which helps the homeless deal with harsh conditions.

A video for the song, entitled “It’ll Be Okay,” can be seen here.

A seasonal kickoff meeting for Code Purple will be held Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Kent County Building at 555 S. Bay Road in Dover.

Code Purple is the recipient of a Governor’s Service Award and will be honored at a ceremony Tuesday at Dover Downs.

Brewing up fun

Homebrewers, get your recipes in order for the third annual Delaware Homebrew Championship to be held on Saturday, Oct. 17 during the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village on U.S. 13 in Dover.

There are more prizes at stake than ever, including a gas grill being donated by Suburban Propane.

In total, more than $2,000 in cash, prizes and trophies will be awarded in five categories:: IPA (American/Imperial); American Ale (Pale, Amber, and Brown); Delaware-Grown Fruit Beer; Belgian/French Ale; and Specialty, all according to AHA/BJCP Guidelines.

To enter the competition, purchase in advance a $10 “Brew Competition” ticket online at https://dehomebrew.eventbrite.com or call Kent County Tourism at 302-734-8309 to make your competition ticket purchase by phone.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is “The Martian” with Matt Damon.

On DVD and download today is “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” and on Tuesday “Magic Mike XXL” and “Insidious: Chapter 3.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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