October 21, 2021

Make Clury

Petss Got It All

Firefly Music Festival draws fans from all around country to Dover

Firefly fever is getting hotter. But the only cure is a daily dose of patience and preparation.

Some Firefly fans from around the country are working on the latter, trying to tie up loose ends before visiting The Woodlands of Dover for the music festival that launches Thursday, Sept. 23 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 26.

From the festivalgoer traveling nearly 3,000 miles to The Woodlands to the individual who lives only 3 miles away and showers at home each night, The News Journal / Delaware Online will give you a glimpse into  what it takes for folks coming to enjoy the festival next week.

We’ll also shed light on festivalgoers’ favorite Firefly snacks, the outfits they’ll wear, concerts they want to see, and other essential items they’ll need to have a good time in Dover.  

Travel distances below are based on estimates

California, Ashley LaPierre – 2,760 miles

Everything about this Firefly is going to make for an extra fresh experience for Ashley LaPierre and her husband, Vinny, because neither of them have been to The Woodlands before.

The couple is coming from Simi Valley, California, and their total travel time, including their flight and drive from Baltimore to Dover, is about nine hours.

Some of the top acts Ashley LaPierre is stoked to see at Firefly include Billie Eilish, Cage the Elephant, Nelly, Wiz Khalifa, Sofi Tukker and The Killers.

Essential items the couple will bring to the festival include their Rylo 360 camera and comfy shoes. LaPierre said she’s going to strut in platform Chuck Taylors with cushy Dr. Scholl’s inserts. To accommodate for warm days and cooler nights, the couple plans dress in layers.

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For snacks, they’re packing protein bars, chips, Uncrustables and gummy bears.

“Can’t wait to try all the food from fantastic vendors,” LaPierre said.

Missouri, Emily Brittingham – 1,000 miles 

Last month Emily Brittingham drove 22 hours from Missouri to Delaware to visit friends; she dropped off a bunch of Firefly essentials with one of her pals, ahead of the festival, items like bedding and a giant, rose-themed totem. 

Brittingham has been to Firefly at least four times, she said. Due to time constraints, she’ll fly this time, cutting her trip to down to between three to five hours, depending on layovers.

Since most of her items already are with friends, she won’t need to bring much on the flight. Some of the key items: a Lunchbox Hydration Backpack and Liquid IV packs. Normally she likes to bring “1,000 glow sticks per night,” but she didn’t manage to grab as many this year.

A friend of hers is handling snack duty and they usually pack candy like suckers, chocolate and “other random stuff.”

One outfit Brittingham plans to include is a shark costume she’s worn previously to Firefly. A couple of her buddies plan to wear “Harry Potter” costumes during the festival, and also get dressed up for Pride Day.

The Missourian is a member of Firefly’s SuperCamp, a group of festivalgoers who came together to create a safe space for campers. Brittingham has made many friends from the group, which has a Facebook page (Wednesday SuperCamp Alumni) with 124 members, who plan to camp together and work together to make sure they stay safe throughout the event.

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Key SuperCamp members are Michael Greco, Kristen Ramos and Mike Daniel. This year, SuperCamp will have 69 people, 39 cars and 47 sites in North camping at Firefly, she said.

“In the off season, a few of us meet up for concerts and stuff. But we [also] have a group chat going,” Brittingham added. “That group truly does consist of some of my favorite humans.”

Tennessee, David Champion – 700 miles

Middle-aged dentist David Champion began his mission in 2015. His goal was to attend at least one festival per year in different parts of the country. That first festival was Firefly, and he’s going to make his fourth appearance next week. It would’ve been his fifth, but COVID-19 prevented that.

Champion is traveling about 700 miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He’s flying in to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and will ride down to Dover.

He’s coming prepared with a small blanket to sit on and a Koozie holder to keep his beers cold, while enjoying performances by KennyHoopla, Michigander, Glass Animals, Cage the Elephant and Machine Gun Kelly, and others.

Having attended Lollapalooza in Chicago last month, Champion said he’s ready for an extra dose of concerts this year.

“Being fully vaccinated, and already having done Lollapalooza this year with the same entry requirements, I am only slightly concerned,” he said. “[It’s] time to move on and live life.”

North Carolina, Joshua Patton – 620 miles

It’ll take Joshua Patton and his friends an estimated seven hours to drive from Greenville, North Carolina. He’s been to every Firefly since 2014 and in the past he’s spent a lot of time traveling on Thursday. This year, he’s going to make the trip easier by staying in a hotel in Ocean City, Maryland, on Wednesday.

T-shirts and shorts are normally his style of dress. This time, however, he’s packing sweatshirts, just to be safe. He also might wear a rainbow unicorn onesie, depending on how cool the weather gets.

Normally a pop-up canopy is important to have for Firefly during the summer, Patton said. But he doesn’t know if that’s going to be a big deal this year because the festival is in September for the first time.

A small gas grill and a cooler, however, are staple items that will prove helpful.

“We keep fruit, chips and salsa. We usually put meat in a gallon bag [for] marinating,” he said. “I have a YETI cooler that keeps everything good for the weekend — chicken, burgers, etc.”

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A few concerts on his list are Duke Dumont, Big Wild, Tame Impala and Glass Animals. But the festival isn’t just about the music for Patton.

“I tell everyone that Firefly is more about the all-encompassing experience. There is a sense of camaraderie with that many people being in one place for the same reason,” he said. “The acts are obviously important, but the experience will be amazing no matter what acts are there.”

West Virginia, Alicia Boyer – 280 miles 

Electrolytes, glow sticks and peanut butter are what you’ll find in Alicia Boyer’s Firefly survival kit, which also includes bananas. 

Boyer lives in Virginia, but this year she’s traveling from Alta, West Virginia, because she’s picking up her dad’s RV. That’s about a five-hour trip to Dover.   

Her last Firefly was in 2019, and her debut was in 2016. Boyer didn’t say exactly what she’ll wear in The Woodlands this time, but it will include lots of hoodies and sweatpants.

In the past, she and her buddies coordinated outfits. “My friends and I usually see what themes people are discussing [online first]. We’ve done matching Hawaiian shirts, Pride Day, Caturday, etc.”

The Virginian is geeked to see all four Firefly headliners: Lizzo, The Killers, Billie Eilish and Tame Impala, while also “discovering a ton of new artists.”

Pennsylvania, Marissa Boyd – 83 miles

Marissa Boyd can’t go to Firefly without a camelback, portable charger and ear plugs. For snacks, she’s a fan of Natures Valley bars, yet she mainly eats food and snacks from the festival. (“I’m so glad Wok on the Wild Side is back!”)

Boyd said traveling from Philadelphia will take her about an hour and 45 minutes. She’s looking forward to seeing artists like Rossy, Big Wild and Tame Impala at Firefly.  

The Philadelphian expects the experience to be very different this year because of the pandemic.

“We are all so excited that live music is back. Although I prefer Firefly in June, I think having it in the fall will help with issues of dehydration and fatigue throughout the weekend.”

Pennsylvania, Maddie Cusick – 80 miles

She usually wears rave outfits at festivals. But since Firefly has more of an alternative/indie vibe, Maddie Cusick tends to don more comfy and laidback clothing, such as oversized tees and Wook pants.

It’ll take her roughly 1½ hours to voyage from Philly to Firefly. This will be her third time at the fest and she’s coming armed with staples like a tent, portable phone charger and “a positive attitude,” Cusick said. “As dumb as that sounds, you gotta be positive.”

She’s also bringing her companion, Eeyore, her stuffed donkey with his own Instagram and who likes to turn up with her at concerts, because Winnie the Pooh has bad knees and can’t dance like he used to.  

A few snacks Cusick will have on hand include granola bars and GoGo squeeZ juice drinks.  

Some of the artists she’s hype to see are Machine Gun Kelly and headliners Tame Impala and Billie Eilish. “I haven’t seen Billie in over four years. I saw her on her very first tour she ever had and got to meet her, so this is gonna definitely be a full-circle experience for me.”  

Pennsylvania, Wanda Reeves –75 miles

A solar shower, canopy and dark rest tent are key for Wanda Reeves to enjoy her time in Dover next weekend. Her journey from Aston, Pennsylvania, will be around 90 minutes and she’ll come prepared with lots of tasty treats. “Snacks would be Pop-Tarts, cheese puffs… chips and bologna sandwiches.”

If the weather is nice, Reeves plans to wear fishnets and cut-off shorts with some nice halter tops. Her group is doing Pride Day-themed outfits, “So I have a rainbow body suit I’ll be wearing, complete with all the colorful necklaces and accessories,” the SuperCamp member said.

Musical acts Reeves is looking forward to include Taking Back Sunday, Meghan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish, Marc Rebillet, Lizzo, Tate McCrae and The Killers.

To attend Firefly this year, guests will have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours (three days), prior to your first entry into the festival grounds (campgrounds or venue).

Reeves, who is a nurse, said she’s concerned about Firefly’s COVID-19 protocol.

“I think it would be safer to have everyone test negative before coming to Firefly, even the vaccinated, because you can still contract and infect others; it just lessens the consequences if you’re vaccinated,” she said.

“As an RN, I am a little worried about bringing anything back to my patients, but I’ll be off for a while before going back to work after the festival. And I’ll test before returning.

Dover, Erin Furman – 5 miles

Erin Furman, 29, and her mom graduated college the same year. They work at the same Dover school, and both love attending Firefly together. The pair has gone to the fest together since 2016, a year after the younger Furman came home and raved to her mom about how great her first experience was at the festival.

“My mom is my best friend; we do pretty much everything together. It wouldn’t be the same without her,” the Dover woman said. “I get my love of music from her.”

Some essentials Furman will bring to The Woodlands include sunglasses, cushy footwear and sunscreen, because it can be difficult finding shade there.

One of the top acts Furman wants to see is someone who wowed her at the festival in 2015.

“The big one for me this year is Lizzo. She was there in 2015 when I was there, and then I absolutely fell in love with her when she came back in 2018,” Furman said. “When I heard she was coming back again, I was pretty elated. The Killers are also pretty good; they’re pretty much regulars at Firefly.” 

Furman is a member of the Firefly Music Festival Fan Page on Facebook, which has over 20K members.

Since Furman lives close to the festival, she tries to scan posts on the group’s Facebook page before she leaves the house to see if anybody posted that they need something from the store, because it can be a hassle leaving the festival grounds before the day ends.

Another perk of living so close is Furman gets to take a shower and sleep in her own bed every night. But that’s not all.

“I do appreciate coming home to air conditioning!” 

Dover, Mary Davis – 2 miles

You could make the case that Mary Davis is a Firefly version of D.J. Tanner, because she has a habit of hosting a “full house” of festival friends at her home in downtown Dover.

Her house is a six-minute drive from the festival grounds, she said, but it takes about 30 minutes if she rides her bike there, or roughly an hour if she walks from her home to the main stage at Firefly.

Davis is all about seeing rapper Nelly at Firefly next week.

Some of her must-have items for the festival are a face covering, water bottle and phone charger. Since we’re still in a pandemic, Davis is going to take precautions at the festival.

“I’m a little nervous, but it’s good to know [unvaccinated people] must be tested 72 hours prior to entering,” she said. “Definitely will have a mask on the entire time. Hoping everyone is safe and behaves.”

For more information about Firefly, visit fireflyfestival.com.

Andre Lamar is the features/lifestyle reporter. If you have an interesting story idea, email Andre Lamar at alamar@gannett.com.

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