84th Annual Dover Days Festival This Weekend
This year’s festival, which will be held Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6 on the Green in Dover, is one of the largest and longest-running free events in Delaware, dedicated to promoting the First State’s history and culture. Dover Days drew nearly 50,000 people in 2015, according to event organizers.
Dover Days hosts one of the largest parades in Delaware with around 4,500 participants and approximately 9,000 spectators. The governor of Delaware serves as the Grand Marshal.
Activities reflect Delaware’s history and heritage as well as contemporary times and include the parade, traditional Maypole Dancing with 250 plus schoolchildren dressed in colonial attire, vintage auto rides, colonial artisans’ village and car show.
Historic re-enactment groups will also be on hand representing the Revolutionary War, WW II and the Civil War. There will also be children’s activities, carnival, fireworks, exhibits and lectures as well as
Approximately 350 artisans, crafters and food vendors will also be on hand during the event.
The event started out as a home and garden tour in 1933. In 1955, the festival became a two-day event and visitors came pouring in ever since.
Schedule of Events
Friday, May 5
8 a.m. – 9 p.m. First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries open
9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Biggs Museum of American Art open (fee)
- Guided Tours of the Johnson Victrola Museum
- Guided Tours of The Old State House
- John Bell House open
9 a.m. – 7:55 p.m. Dover Public Library open
10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Guided Tours of Legislative Hall
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Stories of The Green Walking Tour, meet at the John Bell House. The Green reveals many tales from Dover’s history. Tours led by historical interpreters in period dress begin on the hour and last approximately 45 minutes.
5 – 7 p.m. Exhibit Opening “Ansel Adams”: Biggs Museum of American Art. The Biggs presents a feature exhibition, focusing on the masterful, small-scale, and remarkably rare prints by Adams from the 1920s to the 1950s. (fee)
5 p.m. -8 p.m. Art Exhibit– Parke Green Galleries called “Dover View” (refreshments served)
6 – 9 p.m. Legislative Mall
- 33 1/3 Performs “music from the vinyl era – classic rock, soft rock, and a bit of country.
- Moon bounce village for kids
7 – 8 p.m. In Harmony Concert at the Dover Public Library
8:20 – 8:30 p.m. Cake presentation and Kazoo Orchestra for Dover’s 300th.
Dusk – Fireworks Extravaganza by Pyro Brothers Fireworks, Legislative Mall.
8 – 9 p.m. Lantern Tour of the Old Methodist Cemetery. Join our guides though this historic cemetery by lantern light. Travel among ornate grave markers to hear of traditions from the past. Space is limited; call (302) 739-9194 for reservations. Lantern tours canceled due to inclement weather will not be rescheduled. $10 per person.
Saturday, May 6
7 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Plaza. Dover Days Pancake Breakfast, Wesley United Methodist Church Men’s Group and Bake Sale at Grace Fellowship Hall (fee)
8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Line up for the Dover Days Parade and the Dover Day’s Pet Parade at Central Middle School and adjacent streets
9 – 11 a.m. Breakfast on The Green, American Association of University Women (fee)
9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. First State Heritage Park Welcome Center and Galleries open
9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Dover Connections Tours of Legislative Hall. Enjoy guided tours of the state capitol building and hear about how people from Dover have influenced the course of Delaware history.
- Guided Tours of The Old State House.
- Passport Through Time: Dover START at the John Bell House. Travel through the Green and Dover’s history in four historical theatre presentations written and performed by Campus Community School. Witness Dover’s past, from the formation of The Green in 1717 to city’s experiences in WWII. Performances will begin on the hour.
- Archaeology at the Bell House at the John Bell House. A Time Travelers Archeology Month Event Visit the John Bell House and learn about its history and the lives of those who spent time there in the 18th century. Archaeologists will use finds from the property to discuss everyday life in the past and how we know about times gone by. Touch a piece of history and learn about the archaeological research process.
- Biggs Kids: Blue Hen Mask at the Biggs Museum of American Art. Celebrate our quirky state bird the blue hen by making your own blue hen mask! Ages 5-10.
- Some Like Classical at the Johnson Victrola Museum. Enjoy early recorded classical and semi-classical music and listen to some of the greatest music ever composed on authentic Victor Talking Machines.
9:30 a.m.- 84th Annual Dover Days Parade. State Street and The Green; Reviewing Stand on The Green
10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Guided Tours of Woodburn – the Governor’s House. Enjoy guided tours of the official residence of Delaware’s governor since 1965, and Hall House, the governor’s guest house.
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Stories of The Green Walking Tour. Meet at the John Bell House. Retaining its character since it was first laid out in 1717, The Green has many tales to share. Tours offered on the hour.
10 a.m. – 4:55 p.m. Dover Public Library open
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Dover Days Car Show, Tattnall Building Parking Lot. Come see the area’s hottest
and best hot rods, street rods, antique, classic, muscle, cars (free)
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Silhouette cutting demonstration by Linda Chatfield- at Parke Green Galleries
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Colonial Portrait Board in front of Delaware Store
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friends of Old Dover – Dover Museum Preview- 323 S. State Street
10:30 a.m. Rigby’s Karate Academy demo on Legislative Mall
11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Victorian Ice Cream Parlor, The Dover Century Club on The Green
11:30 a.m.– 12:30 p.m. Maypole Dancing on The Green by Delaware School Children
11:30 a.m. English Country Dancers perform outside the State House
11:30 a.m. Old Bay Circus Performance, Federal Street & MLK South Noon Batter up! Diamond State Vintage Baseball team plays on the field behind Woodburn, the Governors House.
Noon – Batter up! Diamond State Vintage Baseball team plays on the field behind Woodburn, the Governors House.
12 & 1 p.m. Schwartz Center for the Arts presents two performances by the The Children’s Theater. Each performance includes two presentations. (free).
- The first presentation was inspired by The Lion King. This contemporary piece is a 20-minute performance that explains the ‘Circle of Life’ through dance and movement. It is designed to make one feel confident within oneself. This piece was created and choreographed by Tommy Price for The Children’s Theatre, Inc. and utilizes a combination of several pop and current top hit songs.
- The second presentation is a 14-minute Delaware historical fiction narrative piece. “Your Young Men Will See Visions” is a short story performed as a one-man play by 14-year-old Nikolas Mandalas. It is the story told of an adolescent Delaware Native American who, on his vision quest, sees the first white men arriving. The story was written by Joseph L. Crossen, Ed.D.
12 p.m. University of Delaware/Osher Lifelong Learning Chorus presenting a FREE Choral Concert at the Wesley United Church Sanctuary.
12 p.m. Wesley United Methodist Preschoolers Choral Concert, The Green
12:15 – 12:45 p.m. Kaizen Karate presents Battle on the Mall! Legislative Mall.
1 – 4 p.m. Auburn Heights Steam Car Rides. Meet at the John Bell House. Take a free ride in an authentic Stanley Steam car!
1 p.m. Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! William Penn vs. Lord Baltimore at The Old State House. Celebrate the City of Dover’s 300th Anniversary with a historic theater presentation examining William Penn’s
conflict with Lord Baltimore.
1 – 2:30 p.m. Dover Days Games. Legislative Mall. Everyone is welcome to participate in the First Annual Dover Days games. Games include Tug-of-War, Egg Races, and the 300 Relay.
1:30 p.m. – Old Bay Circus Performs, Federal St & MLK South
1:30 p.m. English Country Dancers perform outside the State House
1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Behind the Scenes Tour of the Delaware Public Archives. See how the Archives preserves and protects important records. This tour will include a display of propaganda posters from the World War I era to commemorate the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into the war.
1:30–4 p.m. Guided Tours of Courtroom One, Kent County Courthouse. Enjoy a guided tour of the newly restored Courtroom 1.
2: p.m. Parke Green Galleries History Talk on Mabel Lloyd Ridgely & Annie Jump Cannon
2:30 – 3 p.m. Kaizen Karate presents Battle on the Mall! Legislative Mall
3-9 p.m. History, Heritage and Hops Festival– West Loockerman Way Plaza. This is a ticketed event.
3 p.m. – Old Bay Circus Performs, Federal St & MLK South
3:30 p.m. Car Show winners announced, Main Stage Legislative Mall.
7 p.m. – Technicolor Motor Home: A Tribute to Steely Dan (fee) – Schwartz Center. A mix of elegance and function, this 10-piece band plays its homage to the recent touring versions of Steely Dan. Its
show includes material from every SD album as well as some gems from Becker and Fagen solo projects.