Firefly Survival Tips for Women of a Certain Age

Heather Dougherty at Firefly in 2016. She and a friend splurged for an extra large glamping setup this year.

“Don’t trust anyone over thirty,” is how the saying used to go.

But any modern woman who has reached a few of those once-terrifying milestone birthdays will tell you that there is no longer anything off limits to them, including weekend-long concert experiences that require endurance, planning and open-mindedness.

We chatted with several seasoned rockin’ ladies, each of whom is old enough (we’ll let you do that math) to be the parents and even grandparents of other concertgoers about their experiences as Firefly festival doyennes.

Heather Dougherty, a career photographer and medical professional, is “glamping” for four nights at Firefly. She and a girlfriend splurged for a four-person glamping setup so each will have double the normal room most nights.

Firefly Day 4…#takethatmillenials” – Dawn Moody Filandro with Francine Poel Stone and Matt Stone in 2017

A couple will meet them for a single day and one-night sleepover and take advantage of the two extra cots, each with a pillow and blanket. Only the first of her five years of attending did Dougherty choose the basic camping experience, with her second year in a mid-tier camping setup, and all other years glamping. Dougherty complements the provided gear with a sleeping bag and her own pillow.

But what about showering, a feature that is offered to all levels of campers?

“Depends on the weather. One year it was really cold, so I didn’t bother. But other years I would shower late at night before they’d close. There was no way I was sleeping all dirty. And I think it was smarter that way, I never had to wait in the long morning shower lines,” Dougherty says.

She says baby wipes are key regardless of shower choices. Her splurges are food, cocktails and the merch tent, where she’s brought home a shirt or sweatshirt from each year. 

Dougherty maximizes her fun with late nights, saying, “I’m into the EDM, so I’m usually at the festival until those acts are over, between 12 – 2 am.” She adds that the week after the festival, she is, “Still dancing in my head.”

Francine Poel Stone and Matt Stone stay locally with family and splurge on food and beverages at Firefly. They enjoy sipping Dogfish Head brew at the festival.

Francine Poel Stone is a corporate healthcare consultant by day, rocker by night. She travels all over the U.S. as well as Europe to see the Foo Fighters, whose 2014 Firefly performance is what got her hooked on the band. She and her husband go to Firefly together and stay locally with family for the full four days of the festival. Every year since year two, the couple has met up with friends with day passes and others who camp.

She says, “Usually the first day or two we start early but by the last days we may show up later, like around 2 pm. There are plenty of places to chill at Firefly, whether it’s a nap in the grass or hanging out in the Dogfish Head tent, which is our favorite.”

The Firefly packing list

Stone says that, so far, she hasn’t sprung for a VIP ticket. Food and beverages are their concert splurges, choosing to drink Dogfish all day and eating food from the best quality vendors. Timing visits to the water refilling stations so that you don’t wait on line is key to maximizing your fun while staying hydrated.

Her pro-tip is reserving a locker, which can hold rain gear and a change of shoes and clothing.

Dawn Moody Filandro is also in the banking industry, as well as a fitness fanatic. This year, she has downgraded from a four-day pass to a single day, mainly due to the lineup. She plans to stay overnight at a friend’s house rather than driving home that night, and has never camped in her three years’ of attending.

She will be attending with her husband and five other friends, two of whom are first-timers. Her just-graduated teenaged daughter is not a first-timer, and she will be camping with friends.

Dawn Filandro documents day one of the 2016 Firefly with shoe pics

While some of the ladies we interviewed said they keep their morning routine simple, Filandro says, “I like to get into the festival vibe with fun hair, makeup and clothing! It’s so different from my every day, and anything goes, so you can really have fun with it. That being said, weather plays a huge part in it — I have been there during cool, rainy days and blisteringly hot days. You have to be prepared for anything. There are also a lot of great vendors to help — you can get flowered headbands, body and face paint and boho clothing right on site.”

Her day starts with a trip to the Bloody Mary bar, located next to the “Monster” (the mascot named after Dover Downs’ Monster Mile), which typically already has music playing. It’s a great people-watching spot as it is the campers’ path to the showers, and also thick with food trucks. The Dogfish tent is another favorite spot, with a beer-mosa as her refreshment of choice. Her splurge is also food, citing the wide selection of food trucks, and drink.

Her tip, “You HAVE to save energy for the silent disco…it is one of my favorite things!”

Miranda Brewer will be a first-timer at the 2018 festival. Being that she is the owner of Rainbow Records and a major music supporter, this was the most surprising answer that came out of these interviews.

Miranda Brewer spinning vinyl at Dogfish Head Brewery for Record Store Day. Surprisingly, this will be Brewer’s first trip to Firefly.

She has not yet decided if she is camping, as she was invited by the organizers to set up as a vendor, and will need to arrive earlier than most concertgoers. Her husband and employees, as well as some volunteers, will be with her.

Brewer says she is, “Looking forward to checking out the fest in between working at the popup. We’ll see how far my energy will last! At least it won’t be the desert like when we went to Coachella.”

She says she plans to splurge on beer and merch.

Almost every lady said that all the walking and dancing makes the day a workout in and of itself. None said they’ve had to visit the festival medical tent at Firefly, although Brewer cites a wicked Coachella blister that required attention.

One could infer that these ladies’ life experience has uniquely prepared them for Firefly domination.

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About the Contributor

JulieAnne Cross

JulieAnne Cross

JulieAnne Cross has built a career around making her home state a fun place to live, working with restaurateurs, festivals, artists and arts organizations to bring people together for good times.