Kent County draws people for its NASCAR races, slot machines and historic buildings. In October 2010, county promoters gave Delaware residents another reason to visit: beer and wine. The Delaware Wine & Beer Festival sold 2,500 tickets at $25 a pop, says Cindy Small, executive director of Kent County Tourism. That’s nearly three times as many as they expected to sell. Naturally, the event will take place again this year. It’s one of the county’s nearly three dozen annual festivals. Here’s a look at some of the popular events in Kent County.
The first Friday of each month, you can greet musicians and artists and shop after work—galleries and stores stay open late. Call 678-2940, or visit downtowndoverpartnership.com.
First Saturdays in the First State
Dover Historic District
You can check out special programs in the state’s legislative buildings, historic sites and museums, including tours of the governor’s house, Segway tours and a market fair. Call 739-9194, or visit destateparks.com/heritagepark.
Page 2: March events
Date TBA: Annual Spring Amish Auction
Spend a day on an authentic Amish farm. Farm equipment, handmade quilts, household items and livestock are all auctioned off. The proceeds go toward paying hospital bills for those in need and Amish parochial schools. Call (800) 233-5368, or visit, visitdover.com.
March 12: St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Don’t miss the merriment as it rolls down Loockerman Street starting at 2 p.m. Call 678-2940, or visit downtowndoverpartnership.com.
Page 3: April events
April 30: Bug & Bud Festival
A costume walking parade, steamboat rides, music, and arts and crafts are all part of this free festival. Don’t miss nature tours at Abbott’s Mill. Call 839-1180, or visit downtownmilford.org.
Page 4: May events
May 6-8: Dover Days Festival
The capital city’s signature event, Dover Days has been around since 1933. A three-day historic house tour featuring 17th- and 18th-century homes was added last year. A parade, crafts vendors and a concert performed by the Dover Symphony Orchestra are also part of the package. Visitors also can take part in Maypole dancing. Call (800) 233-5368, or visit visitdover.com.
May 12-15: NASCAR Race Weekend
Dover International Speedway
Enjoy three days of NASCAR racing: Camping World Truck Series on Friday, Nationwide Series on Saturday and Sprint Cup racing Sunday. Call (800) 441-RACE, or visit doverspeedway.com.
May 21: Strawberry Festival
Live bluegrass music, pony rides, balloon art and hayrides are all part of the festival, organized by Fifer Orchards. And of course, there are strawberry dishes galore, and you can pick your own. Call 697-2141, or visit fiferorchards.com.
Page 5: June events
Call 398-5900, or visit delawarestatefair.com.
June 24: African American Festival
This 21-year-old Positively Dover festival features an open-air market and entertainment that has included doo-wop group the Platters. The one-day event is held at Legislative Mall. This year, expect entertainment from Africa with the South African Peace Train. Call 736-0101, or visit icclarts.org.
Page 6: July events
July 4: Fourth of July Celebration
Celebrating July 4 in the capital involves more than fireworks. You can tour the Old State House, visit the Biggs Museum of American Art and tour Legislative Hall. Visit dover4thofJuly.com.
July 8-10: First State National Car Show
Held at Dover International Speedway, this event features an auto show, a swap meet for used parts, on-site camping and a parade. Stacey David, star of the television shows “Trucks” and “Gears” will be on hand for autographs Saturday. Call 465-1145, or visit firststatenationals.com.
July 21-30: Delaware State Fair
Delaware’s biggest event is going on its 92nd year. Last year’s fair drew 302,000 and featured cooking demos from Paula Deen and a Beach Boys concert. This year features Big Time Rush from Nickelodeon. Other performers will be announced. Call 398-5900, or visit delawarestatefair.com.
Page 7: August events
Date TBD: Diamond State
Taste the best chicken, pork, brisket and ribs area cooks have to offer, as judged by celebrity chefs. The event is a sanctioned competition on the Kansas City Barbeque Society circuit. It is held on the infield of Dover International Speedway. For more, visit doverdowns.com.
Date TBD: Harrington Heritage Days
Food, games, entertainment and crafts will be spread out all over town. Don’t miss the parade. For more, visit cityofharrington.com.
August 6: Wyoming Peach Festival
The festival kicks off with a parade through town. The downtown will fill with food and craft vendors, and demonstrations take place at the railroad freight platform. For more, call 697-3587, or visit townofwyoming.com.
Page 8: September events
September 10: Amish Country Bike Tour
Dover and beyond
This event attracts about 1,500 cyclists from all over the country. Cyclists ride from 15- to 100-mile loops through Amish country. Call (800) 233-5368, or visit visitdover.com.
September 16: Fall into Jazz
Celebrate great blues and jazz with live shows at The Schwartz Center for the Arts. Proceeds benefit music education in Delaware. For more, visit demusic.org.
Sept. 29-Oct. 2: NASCAR Race Weekend
Dover International Speedway
Enjoy three days of NASCAR racing: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East on Friday, Nationwide Series on Saturday and Sprint Cup racing Sunday. Call (800) 441-RACE, or visit doverspeedway.com.
Date TBA: Riverwalk Freedom Festival
The festival includes a 5K run and walk benefitting the American Cancer Society. There’s a tug of war between firefighters from Kent County and Sussex County (Milford straddles the border), and organizers sell rubber ducks for a race on the Mispillion River. The event features more than 100 vendors, live entertainment, a farmers market, a book sale and fireworks at dusk. Call 422-3344, or visit milfordchamber.com.
Page 9: October events
Annual Fall Amish Auction
Spend a day on an authentic Amish farm. Farm equipment, hand-made quilts, household items and livestock are all auctioned off. The proceeds go toward paying hospital bills for those in need and Amish parochial schools. Call (800) 233-5368, or go to visitdover.com.
Date TBA: Autumn in Duck Creek
Visitors can build their own scarecrow, paint pumpkins and enter kids in an art contest. There’s also a Halloween parade and tours of historic homes. Visit downtownsmyrna.org.
October 8-9: Delmarva Folk Festival
Now in its 20th year, this two-day festival features music, camping, arts and crafts and more than 15 hours of live music. Held at Field’s Farm, last year’s acts included Jeff Warner, Blue Moose, and local musicians Tad Jones and Harbortown Band. Call (877) DEL-FOLK, or visit delfolk.org.
Date TBA: Delaware Wine & Beer Festival
The Delaware Wine & Beer Festival made its debut in 2010. Organizers do not yet have a date set for 2011. Held at Pizzadili Vineyard & Winery in Felton. Call (800) 233-5368, or visit visitdover.com.
Page 10: November events
Date TBA: Chocolate Festival
Of course you have your chocolate and eat it too. But also on display at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino are home decor, candles, quilts, health and beauty products and kitchen items. Call (800) 711-5882, or visit doverdowns.com.
Date TBA: Wine & Music Festival
Sample more than 50 wines at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. Sterling Vintner’s Collection Meritage won the 2010 best red wine and a Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc won the best white. Call (800) 711-5882, or visit doverdowns.com.
Page 11: December events
Home for the Holidays
The two-day annual holiday event includes bands, entertainment and a holiday parade. Call 678-2940, or visit downtowndoverpartnership.com.
December 31: First Night Dover
This alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event includes performances for children, music on Legislative Mall, street entertainment and a midnight fireworks finale. Visit firstnightdover.com.