The sunny skies overhead and the rumbling bass protruding from Dover International Speedway's Woodlands was a nice welcome to music fans entering the second Firefly Music Festival.
The three day-festival kicked off at 1 p.m. Friday, and organizers are promising an even bigger and better event than 2012
But before making it into the Woodlands, festival-goers had to first endure hours-long traffic backups on Del. Route 1 or U.S. 13 into Dover. As of 3:30 p.m., two main highways running through Kent County were still jammed with cars making their way through the state.
The traffic was the result of 65,000 festival-goers attending Firefly this year, twice as any as last year.
Despite the traffic, Kent Count Levy Court Commissioner Allen Angel, who was in attendance for a 2 p.m. press conference at the Woodlands, said local residents could take comfort in knowing festival-goers are bringing millions of dollars into the state and the county's economy.
"The economic impact that this is bringing helps the county offset programs and help our constituents. While they may not want to hear it, this can help keep our taxes down in Kent County," Angel said. "I would rather endure a few days of inconvenience if it means bringing in income and not raising taxes."
While many of last year's attractions are back, such as the Arcade, the Vineyard and Hammock Hangout, Firefly has added a few new fun alternatives for fans who don't plan to park it in front of a stage all day. The Forest Cinema will be screening silent films in black and white; the Coffee House will be delivering a more mellow sounds from acoustic artists and Bearclaw Coffee.
The festival isn't just all fun and games, though. The three-day concert raises funds for a number of charities with the largest being St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. This year's festival alone has raised $6 million for St. Jude's, said Firefly Music Festival Director Greg Bostrom.
"We're so excited to be back for another year," Bostrom said. "We've expanded with double the amount of people and double the amount of space."
Gov. Jack Markell lauded Red Frog Events for a job well done organizing such a massive event in the First State.
"Last year, the economic impact on Delaware totaled $12 million," he said. "It's twice as big, so we're expecting an impressive figure this year."
Markell said it takes 3,500 state employees to put on the event, including transportation workers, emergency personnel and law enforcemen. He thanked those individuals for their hard work.
The governor also noted his son is in attendance at this year's festival, which kicked off a day after his 18th birthday.
"This is a great Delaware story," Markell said. "Most people here last year had never been to Delaware before. So this concert brought them in to see what we have to offer and they went back to their friends and now their back."
Page 2 of 2 - Early attendees at this year's festival were a healthy mix of second-timers and newcomers.
Ryan Mink of Silver Spring said he had such a good time last year that he brought his wife Kristin this time around.
"It's such a great, filial atmosphere so I bought tickets to this year as soon as they went on sale," he said. "I had heard they sold twice as many tickets this year, so I was worried it was going to be overcrowded, but they've opened it up and added more space so it's great. Everything is bigger this year."
Although many fans said they were disappointed to hear The Lumineers and Earl Sweatshirt dropped out of the lineup yesterday, Kristen Mink said she was thrilled to hear Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite had been added in their place.
"I'm so excited to see Ben Harper," she said. "But it's a shame about the Lumineers. We actually have a bachelor party of our friends who were coming up here Sunday specifically to see them."
Julie DiFranceisco of Philadelphia also attended last year's festival and brought first-timers when she returned for the 2013 version.
"It's a very organized, clean festival, which is a nice change of pace," she said. "It's a great event. I think last year's lineup was better, but I still really wanted to come because it's such a good vibe."
Annapolis, Md.-residents Joe Goetschius, Kate Fitzgerald and Rachael Priddy said they decided to make their first trip to Firefly after hearing great things about last year.
"Everybody was talking about it," Goetschius said. "We left at 5 a.m. this morning and got here at 11 a.m., but it was worth it. I can't believe there something this big in Dover, Delaware."
Amy Solenberg and Ashley Boelens, both of Washington D.C., also made their first trek to Firefly today.
"It's so close to home and it involves camping and music mixed togeter -- we had to come," Solenberg said.
"We're also both single so we decided to make it a ladies weekend," Boelens added.
Juston Woinski of Lewes attended last year's Firefly and there was no chance was going to miss this year's event.
"I'll be here every year they have this because I love music," he said. "Besides, it's not a party unless I'm here."
Several bands have already performed this afternoon, with many more taking the nine stages this evening. The Red Hot Chili Peppers will help close out day one at 10:30 p.m. Friday on The Main Stage, as Schoolboy Q takes The Porch at 10:45 p.m., Dan Deacon takes The Backyard Sage at 12:15 a.m. and Manufactured Superstars closes the night on The Porch at 12:15 a.m.