As a kid, did you chase butterflies, think dragonflies were good luck, or catch fireflies after dark? Well, I did. I loved catching those little fireflies in a jar, watching them light up the night, and setting them free. It was one of the highlights of summer (no pun intended).
Who knew that after living in Hawaii for years, I’d return and still be catching fireflies, only this time it was the “Firefly Music Festival” in Dover Delaware just a few weeks ago. Friend’s college age kids had tickets, and while my friends were talking about the insanity of a crowd of over 90,000 people converging in one place and camping together for four days, I lovingly remembered all the years I spent at many music festivals, including the Philadelphia Folk Festival having the time of my life. As a young adult, I volunteered at many, and it always was an incredible experience. Although the crowds were large, everyone was there for a common goal, to have a great time, listen to music, and enjoy the festival atmosphere.
So, my friend Alison, who was planning on selling her tickets, said she’d go if she had a friend join her, and I was crazy enough to commit to three days, not just one. We purchased day passes for two other friends, Wendy and Robin, who came with us on the last day. It was a blast, however what I thought was ironic was that my friend’s teenagers were there, while my nineteen year old son did not go because he had other responsibilities. He seemed to think it was cool that “my mom went to Firefly, and I didn’t even go”. His help was great in letting me know which bands to see since I’m less familiar to some of the acts that played. Though similar to many folk and jazz festivals in many ways, this crowd was primarily made up of “Millennials”, with a smattering of all ages, and the music was as diverse as the people there.
There was truly something there for everyone, but it was not for the faint of heart. The walk into the venue grounds was over a mile, some uphill, and the event grounds itself was spread out. I remember walking and thinking, “What am I doing, I’m crazy, my body can’t handle this walk and heat, dust, my poor feet, the impact on my whole body”, but I trudged ahead filled with a mix of internal complaints and great anticipation. Throughout each day we walked over 6 miles getting from stage to stage, one end of the venue to the other. There was music playing constantly, on every stage, and for thousands just being in the environment and taking in the day was enough without focus on a specific musical act. Many people said that they just go because they just love the atmosphere, and the musical acts are almost secondary.
Everyone was there for the common goal, to have fun, enjoy time camping, and being with old, and making new friends.
Of course the music was incredible. There was a “Main Stage” which featured headline acts, three other stages, a pavilion with great music and light shows, a coffee house area stage, and a silent disco where one can jam and dance with headphones. Nestled in a quiet grove among the trees were dozens of hammocks for people to quietly chill out, rest or just commune with nature. At night, there were beautifully lit trees areas, a hot air balloon that was lit up in Neon green, as well as a host of other great sights and sounds. There was just about every type of food and drink available, and the air was thick with many aromas. It could definitely be sensory overload for some, though the nice thing about an event like this is that there are options. You can find a place to chill out and relax anywhere if you needed, or dance, sing, run, jump, play, eat, drink, etc.
We did it all. I had a great time, my friends had a great time, and I’m looking forward to next year!