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Arts / Culture / Events / Urban development

What would it take to get Firefly concert-goers to stick around?

That's what we asked some of Wilmington's young professionals. Here are their ideas for potentially capturing longterm value from the massive music festival.

The 2014 Firefly Music Festival in Dover. (Photo by Rachel DiPento)

Music festivals are so hot right now. California’s got Coachella. Tennessee’s got Bonnaroo. And now, Delaware is cementing its festival cred with Firefly, which will be held June 18-21 in Dover. The lineup was recently announced and tickets are available beginning today.
The event, now in its fourth year, is expected to attract thousands of millennials to Delaware this summer. Jackpot.
But is there any way for Delaware to benefit in the longterm?
Many Wilmington city leaders, technologists and other young professionals have not been shy about seeking the next 5,000 residents. Recently, teams even pitched their plans for improving the city at the 2015 Idea Challenge.

Firefly 2014

From the 2014 Firefly Music Festival. (Photo by Rachel DiPento)

We asked young professionals who live and work in Wilmington what could be done to potentially attract millennials at Firefly to Wilmington, and how technology can be used to reach them.
Here are their responses:


Pauline Rubin

I think Firefly is such a great opportunity for young professionals to be exposed to Delaware. So many people see it as a passing-through point on the way to somewhere else, and the festival gives us the opportunity to show that Delaware is more than just that.
My suggestion would be to highlight some of the cool things coming out of Wilmington. Maybe there can be a display showing things 3D-printed at 1313 Innovation, a big Cnverg screen for people to try out, examples of projects done at Barrel of Makers, and so on and so forth. There’s so many innovative and exciting things happening in Delaware that I think young professionals in other cities haven’t had the opportunity to learn about, and Firefly can be that opportunity.


Zach Phillips
  • Founder of The Kitchen, a Wilmington-based vido production company

I’m not much of a promoter. To me, the best promotion is having Firefly itself, and making that as amazing an experience as possible for all the people who attend. Every small detail should be cared for. People are there to have a great time, so don’t inconvenience them in any way or give them parking tickets. Keep restaurants open late, etc.
On a similar note, if you want people to think Wilmington is a cool place to live and work, then build cool places to live and work in Wilmington, and then be cool while you’re living there and working there. The best promotion is having a great product. All that Wilmington and Delaware need to work on right now is our product, and that’s what a lot of us are doing.
Make great things, like Firefly, and people will come.


John Himics
  • Lead developer, First Ascent Design

The one thing that will drive young professionals to Wilmington, in my opinion, is knowing about jobs. Everything else, night life, safety, crime, etc etc., is a concern only after I know that I can feasibly bring home a paycheck.
I would suggest compiling a few jobs currently available in the city and building a small, responsive, visual-heavy site that highlights those jobs. You can then get people on the site by piggy-backing on the social media presence around Firefly. Any physical advertising on-site at Firefly should direct people to the site only, no handouts or brochures, etc. No one at a festival is carrying around another brochure. Once users are on the site, there are multiple strategies you could use to capture that list of interested individuals and continue the conversation with them after the event.
A key in the messaging will be making Wilmington looks and feels like a genuine place with excited people, and not allowing the messaging to sound like a government agency trying to sound like a cool place.


John Kirk
  • Cofounder of Cnverg, a Wilmington-based touchscreen startup

If there is one thing that the startup community can do well, it is interactive engaging content, events, and “out of the box” ideas. There’s probably a dozen projects we in the community could tackle, offhand in a few seconds could be anything from projection mapping and augmented reality exhibits, to interactive displays and kiosks, to location-based way-finding apps, an informative website for starting up in Delaware, to just the overall signage and design with visual content that could market Wilmington and Delaware as a nascent tech scene with potential limited only by your creativity. A place to be somebody.
I know many of us would love to work on such a project, and there are plenty of talented people here who could, but what we’ve found out over the years is that getting a big idea together for tentative projects with no real direction or budget is a major distraction from the constant hustle we must focus on to survive and thrive. But if there was a cohesive and “real” plan to make a splash about marketing Wilmington and Delaware to the young professionals who will descend on the state this summer, Firefly would no doubt be the best place to pull that off.

Companies: The Kitchen / Cnverg (formerly MUNI-Tech) / DuPont

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