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Over 25 Can’t-Miss Kent County Festivals

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Photo courtesy of Kent County Tourism Corporation

Music, food, beverages, history, pop culture. If you can think it up, there’s probably a festival for it in Kent County.

“We call it something for everybody,” says Bob Hartley, a June Jam festival organizer.

While the most famous festival held in the county is the Firefly Music Festival, it’s not the only event that has fans camping out to hear music. June Jam, a one-day music festival held every June for the last 42 years, takes place at G&R Campground in Houston. The festival features rock, country and blues music with seven bands playing throughout the day. Funds raised from the Jam go to local charities.

The Firefly/June Jam Connection

Some people—OK, maybe only a couple—say they can trace the founding of the Firefly Music Festival to June Jam in Houston.

One of the original organizers of June Jam moved to Tennessee in the 1990s and started a music festival called the Itchicoo Park Music Festival based on the June Jam concept. That festival inspired the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival that took the place of Itchicoo in Manchester, Tennessee. Firefly was modeled after Bonnaroo, ergo June Jam inspired Firefly.

Even the few admit the Jam/Firefly connection is tenuous, but fun.

“It’s a little bit of a stretch,” says one of June Jam’s founders, Bob Hartley while laughing. “You have to connect the dots.”

But you don’t need to head into the woods to enjoy live music in Kent. Smyrna at Night in June; OktDoverFest in downtown Dover in October; or the Ladybug Festival in Milford in September all offer more urban settings.

Smyrna at Night features nine stages playing throughout the day and sees an attendance of about 6,000 people. The day ends with smaller stages closing down so everyone can make their way to the main stage to hear a nationally known act.

“It’s wonderful to see everyone running around,” says event coordinator Mike Rasmussen. “It’s great to showcase to others who don’t live here all we have to offer.”

Photo courtesy of Kent County Tourism Corporation

At Milford’s Ladybug Festival, the music is about girl power. The event was created to showcase talented local and regional female artists. In 2019, it featured 41 bands on 11 stages in a huge block party. While the festival was named long before it came to Milford, the coincidence is that Milford is the reason the ladybug is the state bug. A group of Milfordian second graders lobbied for it in the early 1970s.

“Like it or not, we might be the bug town,” says Trish Gerken, director of Downtown Milford Inc. Besides the Ladybug festival, the city also hosts the annual Bug and Bud Festival in May.

Photo courtesy of Kent County Tourism Corporation

Not bugs, but beer is the inspiration for OktDoverFest, Dover’s take on the traditional Octoberfest in Germany. While local craft brews take a prominent role in this festival, it’s a family event, featuring live performances by local bands; street food from local restaurants, pubs, and food trucks and a craft fair put on by local artisans.

If you can’t wait until October, the Delaware Beer and Wine Festival in August should help boost your spirits, literally. It’s the industry’s only state-wide festival and offers tastings, meet-the-brewer opportunities, special demonstrations and a mechanical bull. Event goers can also attend a guided tour of the Agricultural Museum and Village to learn about life in a farm community in days past.

Speaking of the past, Kent is full of history and likes to celebrate it, whether it’s life in the 18th century at a market fair on The Green in Dover in November, a pirate’s life at the Bowers Beach Buccaneer Bash in May or rural life at the Harrington Heritage Day in August.

“People come back for Heritage Days,” says Bill Falasco, who helps organize the event for the town’s Parks and Recreation department. Harrington Heritage starts with a 5K color run, has a parade, inflatables for kids, tours of the town museum, food and music. Falasco said it’s a favorite place for people to catch up with each other. “They’ll talk for hours.”

For more information on festivals and events held in Kent County, visit delawarevillages.com and click on the menu for events and festivals.


Over 25 Can’t-Miss Kent County Festivals

Photo courtesy of Kent County Tourism Corporation

 

Harvest Ridge Winery’s Food Truck Competition & other events
harvestridgewinery.com/calendar

Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company’s Cheesetoberfest & R2Hop2
cheesetoberfest.com

Riverwalk “Freedom” Festival
milfordchamber.com

Bud & Bug Festival
downtownmilford.org/events

Lady Bug Festival
downtownmilford.org/events

OktDoverFest
facebook.com/OktDoverFest

Destination Downtown Dover
facebook.com/d3delaware

Dover Comic Con
facebook.com/DoverComicCon

History Heritage & Hops
facebook.com/d3delaware

Bowers Beach Buccaneer Bash
facebook.com

Fifer Orchards’ Strawberry Festival
fiferorchards.com

June Jam Festival
junejam.com

Dover Fourth of July
dover4thofjuly.com

Delaware State Fair
delawarestatefair.com

NASCAR
doverspeedway.com

Firefly Music Festival
fireflyfestival.com

Wyoming Peach Festival
wyoming.delaware.gov/peach-festival

Fifer Orchard’s Peach Ice Cream Day
fiferorchards.com

Harrington Heritage Day
harrington.delaware.gov/events/harrington-heritage-day

Amish Country Bike Tour
bikede.org/amish-country-bike-tour

Delaware Beer, Wine & Spirits Festival
debeerwinespirits.com

Leipsic Oyster Festival
leipsicoysterfest.com

18th Century Market Fair
destateparks.com/marketfair

Capital Holiday Celebration
downtowndoverpartnership.com

Light Up The Holidays Marketplace & Parade
downtowndoverpartnership.com

Fall Fest
fiferorchards.com

Cider Fest
fiferorchards.com

Big Draw Festival
downtownmilford.org/events/2019-big-draw-festival

Bowers Heritage Day
facebook.com

Published as “Festival Frenzy” in Delaware Today‘s 2020 Kent County Guide.

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