Dover Days Festival Opens May 4

The long-running festival celebrates the history of the First State, Delaware, with sea chanteys, parades, artisans in period costume, maypole dancing, and more.

The First State Antique Tractor Club will host its annual antique tractor show on Saturday of Dover Days weekend, May 4-6, 2012, in Dover, Delaware.

The First State Antique Tractor Club will host its annual antique tractor show on Saturday of Dover Days weekend, May 4-6, in Dover, Delaware.

courtesy Kent County (Delaware) Tourism

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Dover, Delaware — Mark your calendars and plan to visit Dover, Delaware, the Capital of the First State, for the 79th Dover Days Festival, set for May 4-6. As in previous years, there is no admission to the event, which is Kent County's largest festival and one of Delaware's longest-running festivals celebrating First State history.

The Dover Days festival kick-off party begins with a free Friday night outdoor concert on the First State Heritage Park's Legislative Mall, an open-air park surrounded by stately older buildings. The U.S. Navy Sea Chanters will bring back the songs often associated with coastal areas and working watermen, as was the case in Delaware. Two bicycle stunt shows, a lantern tour of historic Christ Church cemetery, and two Paranormal 101 seminars and ghost walks cap off opening night festivities.

Saturday, the largest day of the festival, features a large Dover Days parade and costumed pet parade with prizes; maypole dancing with children in colonial attire; free admission to numerous museums, historic sites and Woodburn, the Governor's mansion; 300-plus artisans and crafts vendors; two outdoor entertainment stages, one on Legislative Mall and one on The Green; a full entertainment schedule in the Schwartz Center for the Arts; two dozen Colonial and Victorian artisans in period dress demonstrating their age-old crafts including silhouette-making, model shipbuilding, chair caning, blacksmithing, soap-making and Colonial floor cloth-making; a home and trade show; a children’s zone with plenty of free activities including carnival rides. Festival-goers will be treated to free rides in the Auburn Heights steam cars, listen and learn about colonial musicians and tour the newly restored John Bell House on Dover's Historic Green.

Saturday evening, the Dover Symphony Orchestra will perform its annual Dover Days Pops Concert, and Delmarva Historic Haunts will teach another paranormal investigations course at the bewitching hour of midnight, followed by a walking tour of local historic sites.

Sunday gets underway with 150-plus exhibitors, food vendors and more, live entertainment stage, and a 19th-century baseball game. The afternoon's activities will include a judged car show of street rods, hotrods, imports, classics and antique cars. Twenty-six trophies including best in show will be awarded by participant judging along with 50 commemorative dash plaques to the first 150 vehicles registered.  

For more information including exhibitor registration forms, car show entry forms, pet parade registration forms or weekend lodging packages, visit the Dover Days website, or call Kent County Tourism, producers of the event, at 800-233-5368.