Although Delaware is a small and unassuming state, summertime presents ample opportunity for visitors and residents alike to take part in the various music and cultural festivals that are sure to tickle your fancy, whatever floats your boat. In this blog post, I will highlight a few festivals I had the joy of attending this year, some of which are annual treats for expectant regulars. Other festivals were completely new and may continue on to becoming perennial favorites henceforth.
Clifford Brown DuPont Jazz Festival
This longtime annual festival draws jazz lovers from around the country to Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, for five days of smooth jazz and neo-soul music. Crowds flock at Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington to enjoy the soothing sounds of live instrumental harmony from an array of talented musicians. Underrated neo-soul recording artist Leela James graced the stage this year on the penultimate evening of the festival. Vendors set up shop selling their alluring BBQ and seafood platters as well as confections such as cotton candy and funnel cake. A block party after party kept lively jazz fans up and out once the main stage shut down at 10pm on the last two nights of the five-day event in late spring. So glad I finally attended this widely heralded fest!
CACC Chinese Festival
CACC stands for the Chinese American Community Center situated in Hockessin, about 20 minutes from Wilmington. This annual weekend festival was nothing short of eventful with a fully packed itinerary organized for maximum enjoyment. Special exhibits featuring Chinese bronze ware, Chinese tea culture, brush painting and calligraphy made this year’s festival all the more interesting. Not to mention the arts and crafts for the children (e.g., origami) that were also on sale in the souvenir shop. Of course no Chinese festival is complete without a cultural performance; a dragon dance, Samulnori (Korean percussion ensemble), folk dance, and national dances from other Asian countries like Indonesia and India stole the show. An abundance of Chinese dishes was available for purchase, including the featured dish: Taiwanese Railroad Bento (a pork chop entree accompanied by white rice, soy sauce egg, and veggies all in a wooden box). Visit the website to learn more about this awesome event.
Located right in my backyard, the Ukrainian Catholic Church hosted its first ever cultural festival this year. As I was napping on that early Sunday afternoon I could hear the traditional Ukrainian music from my bedroom window. So I made the five-minute walk to the church where a huge Ukrainian truck greeted festivalgoers. The truck was from a local Buy Ukrainian store, and it transported cultural merchandise such as groceries, clothing and literature unique to the Ukraine. Having never stepped foot in this church before, I eagerly entered the sanctuary to behold its illustrious architecture and lovely symmetrical furnishings. The reception hall was buzzing with hungry attendees waiting in line for their meals and breaking bread together with their family and friends. It was really amazing! The grill was fired up outside with more sausages and hearty meats. Friendly people, heartwarming cuisine, and vibrant music made this inaugural festival a community success in my hometown on Father’s Day (June 21).
Peoples Festival 4 Peace (Tribute to Bob Marley)
Who loves reggae music, wave your hands in the air?!!? The 21st annual Peoples Festival 4 Peace brought together a laundry list of reggae performers such as Romain Virgo, The Itals, Jah9, and Alika to name a few. Hip hop legend Afrika Bambaataa blessed the audience with his brief presence spinning oldies but goodies on the turntable that got the people up and grooving. The historic Harriett Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park [adjacent to the Wilmington Train Station] hosted this event on a beautiful, clement day in late July. Caribbean eats filled the menu in addition to fresh, tropical smoothies and fruit beverages. What a day it was for all things reggae and peace, paying homage to the late, honorable Sir Bob Marley.
While this was only a handful of festivals I attended this summer, there were many others I would have liked to experience if time and circumstance allowed for that. For example, the Greek Festival, the Blues Festival and the Italian Festival were other popular ones that caught my attention but, haplessly, not my attendance. Nonetheless, I’ll keep them in mind for the future. So if you’re ever in Delaware at any time during summer, keep your eyes and ears open to experiencing all that these free to low-cost festivals have to offer.