Officials: 80000 expected for Firefly music fest – The News Journal
About 80,000 music fans are expected to attend this month’s Firefly Music Festival in Dover and traffic officials are confident that last year’s severe traffic problems will not be repeated.
The crowd estimate was given Friday afternoon Firefly’s production company, Chicago-based Red Frog Events.
(An earlier version of this article quoted Michael Tatoian, chief operating officer of the Dover International Speedway, who put the total at 70-75,000.)
Firefly, in its third year, will run June 19-22.
Last year’s festival grew to about 65,000 people, up from 30,000 in its inaugural year. During the winter, the festival grounds were expanded to be able to accommodate up to 80,000 people.
Also on Friday, Delaware Department of Transportation’s management center operations manager Gene Donaldson predicted last year’s nasty, hours-long traffic jams on U.S. 13 and Del. 1 will not happen again.
“The ghost of Firefly last year is not here for this year. It’s different volumes that we are dealing with each day. We are confident we can better manage that. You will not see that delay,” Donaldson says. “This event will not be the last event. We’re not going to see a back-up to Smyrna.”
The festival was expanded to four days this year, partially to help spread out the arrival times. Some campers will be arriving as early as Wednesday and a limited music schedule is slated for Thursday night to entice fans to come early. Officials say Friday will remain the most heavily traveled day.
The festival will have more than 50 intake lanes for arriving music fans and travelers will be urged to use exit 95 off Del. 1, just south of the speedway since 70 percent of the festival traffic is coming from the north. If exit 104, which is north of the festival site, becomes too congested, DelDOT will close the exit and direct all traffic to exit 95.
Even so, DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt added an asterisk to Donaldson’s bold prediction, jokingly calling it “Sherman-esque”: “If this plan works correctly and things go smoothly, we should not get a traffic back-up to Smyrna. however, if there is an incident or 100,000 people show up, we could have an issue.”