Fans lament loss of 2020 Firefly Festival

Delaware State News file photo
Kid Quill entertains fans at The Hideaway stage at the Firefly Music Festival last year in Dover. This weekend marks the first year since Firefly started in 2012 that the mega music festival will not be held, due to concerns over coronavirus.

DOVER — This will be a Father’s Day weekend unlike any other in recent years around Dover. The city will be without the sights and sounds (and traffic) of the Firefly Music Festival.

The mega event, which has annually brought tens of thousands of people to the area around this time, was canceled back in March due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
A statement from Firefly said in part, “We are deeply disappointed by this difficult decision, one that impacts our fans and our incredible team of performers, crew, vendors & our community in Dover, Delaware.

“In these unprecedented times, we send you our love. Thank you for your support and we look forward to welcoming you in the Woodlands in June 2021 where we will dance, sing and celebrate live music together.”
This year’s festival was to include headliners Billie Eilish, Rage Against the Machine, Halsey, Blink-182, David Lee Roth and the Eastern Shore’s own Maggie Rogers.

The event was to have been four days this year, back from its three-day schedule last year, lasting from Thursday to Sunday.
For those such as Sarah Sadlowski of South Dover, attending Firefly with her family has become an annual tradition. She has gone every year since the beginning.
“It’s always part of my Father’s Day gift to my husband,” she said.
“We go out there and each of the kids picks something out for him, like maybe a hat or a shirt and we have to hurry up and sneak it back to the lockers so he can’t see it and then when we’re at Firefly on Sunday, it’s like ‘Here’s your Father’s Day stuff.
“It’s kind of a mini vacation because you get some time off of work and we’re out there having fun.”

Mrs. Sadlowski calls it “a family affair” as she and her husband Casey, 13-year-old son Emory and 8-year-old daughter Cassie head out every year.
“In the beginning, we would only have (the kids) go like one day. And then as they got older, they went more and now we just tell my son ‘Hey if you want to go all four days, that’s fine.’ And usually about three days in, he’s exhausted and he doesn’t want to go back on Sunday. My daughter, she’s ready to go every day and we’re like, ‘Whoa, let’s have one day that we can have an adult day,’” she said.
Of all the years the family has gone, one day has stood out among all the rest.
It came in 2017 when the band Thirty Seconds to Mars appeared and Mrs. Sadlowski got to go on stage with her family as lead singer and Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto sang directly to her daughter, Cassie.
Mrs. Sadlowski jokes she has “a huge problem” when it comes to the Los Angeles-based rock group.

“In the past 10 years, I’ve probably seen them 10 times. There was one year that I missed seeing them and that was because I was pregnant with my daughter. But the following year, we went twice,” she said.
“That day, I literally stood against the front fence for like three hours straight with her while my husband went off and did his own thing. When he came back over to us, they were passing out these flags and gave one to him said since you’re gonna hold the flags for us, come get on stage,” she recalled.
“So we got up there and they were kind of getting toward capacity where they didn’t know if they were going to be able to get anybody else up there. So they literally grabbed her from us and she’s only like 5 or 6 at the time. They took her to the front of the stage, and then we got in the middle of standing next to Shannon (Leto), the drummer. And we had no idea (Jared Leto) had sang to her because we couldn’t see over in the corner where she was at.
“And then all of a sudden, all my friends are out there taking pictures and all these texts are surfacing with these videos and she’s just like ‘Yeah he came up to me and touched my face.’ Like it was everyday, normal to her.”
Over the years, the Firefly Music Festival has hosted a who’s who of musical talent. The first year in 2012 the headliners were Jack White, The Black Keys and The Killers.

The number of bands, the number of stages and the acreage of the festival have all expanded over the years.
Acts have included Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Florence + The Machine, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Mumford and Sons, The Weeknd, Muse, Bob Dylan, Eminem and last year’s headliners Panic at the Disco!, Travis Scott and Post Malone.
No act was bigger of course than the one who stepped on the main stage exactly five years ago tonight — Paul McCartney.

The former Beatle delighted an overflow crowd of more than 60,000 people with songs from his days with the Fab Four, Wings and his solo career. Even he, at times, seemed a little overwhelmed by the large crowd and its excitement to see him.
The night kicked off with The Beatles’ classic “Birthday” coming the day after his own birthday and ended 33 songs later with, fittingly, “The End.”
For the Sadlowskis, they will take this weekend to get some home improvement projects done. But then next weekend they are off to North Carolina to take in some drag racing.
“But we’ll back to Firefly again next year. We wouldn’t miss it,” Mrs. Sadlowski said.