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Concerts on The Green ‘successful’ despite pandemic

Andre Lamar
Dover Post
Big white circles were spray painted on the lawn to help concertgoers socially distance at the 45th Concerts on The Green series in Dover this summer.

Planning an entertainment event outdoors is a roll of the dice. The City of Dover Parks & Recreation gambled on presenting 14 live performances on The Green this summer.

They consistently rolled with a hot hand, only crapping out (canceling) one of those shows this summer because of poor weather. It just so happened the band that received an unlucky roll was the Honeycombs, one of the bigger draws for the free Concerts on The Green series, held every Thursday evening outside the Old State House from June 3 to Sept. 10.

Recreation specialist Sherwanda Rachal-Speaks said she’s disappointed the Honeycombs weren’t able to rock Dover. But that hasn’t overshadowed how she feels overall about this 45th season for Concerts on The Green.

“I must say, this was a very successful year, despite COVID,” she said. “What I found interesting this year is both sides of The Green, every week, seemed to be somewhat crowded, a little more than normal."

Rachal-Speaks said the Green felt fuller this year because more people were spread out on the west side of The Green because of social distancing. Usually, people are drawn to the east side of the lawn since that’s where the stage is located.

This year each performance averaged 150 people attending the state’s COVID-19 guidelines for outdoor gatherings are capped at 250 people. In a non-pandemic year, the concert series averages over 200 guests, Rachal-Speaks said.

The Honeycombs got hit with bad luck twice this summer. They had to postpone their first show in June to Sept. 10, the finale for the Concerts on The Green series. But their finale got rained out.

Honey Voshell, founder and drummer for the Honeycombs, said this sort of thing happens and you can’t control it. He decided it was best not to reschedule the show again.

“The problem is we already set this thing up twice. We have to load equipment and, of course, unload equipment,” the Felton man said. “And I had three guys coming up, one from Berlin, Maryland. I had two guys coming from Salisbury, Maryland. It's not that easy to set up a job within a week's time, because chances are somebody is gonna be gone or somebody's gonna be on vacation.”

Voshell said the Honeycombs initially formed around 1957 until about 1960. Then they reorganized in 1990 and the band has been rolling since.

The drummer said his band has played the Concerts on The Green series about 18 times and they usually attract a  crowd, including people who’ve been following them since the ‘90s. A number of those fans have since become friends of the group.

Voshell enjoys gigging on The Green because “they’re very appreciative,” he said about folks in the Dover area.

“We've had excellent crowds on both sides of State Street. We've had up to... one time I think somebody was counting like 1,200 people, which is a good turnout for us there,” the Felton drummer said. “It's really, really a great crowd. They're a nice bunch of people and they come out there.”

Rachal-Speaks said she’s proud the city’s Parks & Rec adopted an idea from New York to help keep concertgoers safe at performances.

“Because of COVID, what I did was try to come up with a creative way to still have the Concerts on The Green outside,” she said. “While looking online, I saw Domino Park in New York. They spray painted white circles in the park to allow people to come out and still be able to social distance.”

Voshell said he’d love to give The Green another shot next summer.

Rachal-Speaks wishes the stars would’ve aligned for the Honeycombs this summer, yet she’s optimistic about the future.

"I'm a little disappointed with mother nature,” she said. “But I'm looking forward to bringing them back for the 2021 concert season."