Firefly Backstage: Getting to Know Red Frog Events

Featured Image by Stephanie DeFeo

During the month of June, I enjoyed the distinct privilege of acting in two professional capacities while visiting Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware for the first time. I was pulling double duty: spending two of my four days on site taking in the performances, sights and sounds as a representative of Rock On Philly while working during the other two days on staff for FestWorks. The awesome community and culture of the fans of the annual festival is a very unique one, possessing great interactivity in offering outlook and desired acts in anticipation and advance of each upcoming year as well as in feedback following each summer in Dover. I had heard great things about the event since it first took off in 2012, and as the days grew closer to my packing up my Jeep and making the trip down to the festival grounds, I grew more and more interested in the company for whom I was working for. As I began to dig deeper, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by my findings.

If you have had the pleasure of attending or working for Firefly Music Festival during any of its first four years of operation (including this year’s Festival with an attendance of around 90,000), then you may have heard of the innovative Chicago-based event planning and production company Red Frog Events. Beginning in 2007 with multiple running series, such as the Great Urban Race and Warrior Dash, that came from founder Joe Reynolds being inspired by The Amazing Race. Having started with only a $5,000 investment, Joe and his company have managed to continued to steadily develop new successes annually, growing in only four years time to become a $45 Million company.  Among these progressive successes that have carried such forward momentum is included the launch of their in-house registration program EventSprout. Ryan Kunkle, the “Master Of Monkey Business” of Red Frog has been quoted in regards to these events, saying: “Our goal is to provide people with the most fun they’ve ever had.  People are seeking staycations or something to do when their friends come to town or with their significant others…and dinner and a movie gets old.  People want a little more pep in their step and that’s what we provide.”

The now-thriving and award-winning experiential entertainment company has expanded to organize and plan great additional events such as the Iron Warrior Dash, Urban Warrior Dash, Beach Dash, Red Frog Bar Crawls, Farm to Fork, American Beer Classic and The Bacon Chase. The mission of fun and providing a unique experience extends to patrons of Red Frog’s events from the heart of the company itself, both in the unconventional and unique office atmosphere Joe Reynolds has cultivated, as well as in his commitment to hiring the best employees and the creative job-titles that they possess.

The introduction of the Firefly Music Festival of Dover, Delaware has marked a transition for the company into live music festivals, one that has only gained popularity since Firefly’s initial launch in 2012. In regards to its creation, Reynolds has said: “I dream big. Resting on our early success wasn’t an option. With an eye on healthy diversification of our competencies coupled with an irresistible opportunity in an industry with some glaring inefficiencies, Firefly was born…Within 24 hours of fireflyfestival.com, going live we had well over $1 million in ticket sales. We also had press coverage in the New York Times and more than 100 other media outlets worldwide… We knew it was the start of our next chapter, of something special.”

The multi-day festival set on the grounds of the Woodlands next to Dover International Speedway has featured a number of headlining acts that have included Paul McCartney, Morrissey, Foo Fighters, The Killers, Jack White, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Vampire Weekend, Foster The People, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, John Legend, Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, MGMT, Dispatch, Outkast, Jack Johnson, Beck, Arctic Monkeys, Weezer, Band Of Horses, The Flaming Lips, Lupe Fiasco, Ellie Goulding, The Lumineers, The Wallflowers, Awolnation, The Head And The Heart, Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, Matt & Kim, Cage The Elephant, Alabama Shakes, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Zedd, Dr. Dog, Amanda Palmer, Atlas Genius, Twenty One Pilots, Chvrches, Action Bronson, Portugal the Man, Local Natives, Ziggy Marley, Walk Off The Earth, Sky Ferreira, Courtney Barnett, Kodaline and Bleachers…just to name a few. Artists perform on various platforms such as the Forest, Pavilion, Lawn, Porch, Backyard and Main Stages, to crowds of music fans that have grown in their numbers each year.

Unique experiences for Festival-goers range from a Dogfish Head Brewery to Hammock-Hangouts and FYE Artist meet-and-greet tents to Silent-Disco’s where DJ’s spin to a group of dancing patrons enjoying the music through headphones. An expression of Joe Reynolds message on The Importance of Giving Back can be seen on site in the St. Jude Children’s Hospital tent that highlights the official charity of Firefly and offers involvement with their pro-active Music Gives charitable partnering and activism that has raised over $10 million of a $25 million dollar fundraising commitment. Red Frog’s unique brand of experience and philosophy was evident from the moment I arrived on-site at Delaware Technical Community College for check-in Wednesday night to pick up my credentials and info for the event.

I enjoyed a pleasant and lively dialogue with a group of wonderful young ladies on staff named Caroline, Nicole, Kylie and Lenni. They did a fantastic job as we shared some smiles and laughs discussing the nuances of Festival camping as well as the joys and benefits of ‘Party-Size’ bags of Doritos. The companies on-site staff was phenomenal across the board, especially in their successful safety measures on behalf of the artists and attendees when stormy weather hit on the third night of the Firefly festivities. Needless to say, Red Frog’s staff embodies the heart and fun at the very heart of its business, making for one of the absolute coolest, most unique and interesting companies in the United States for whom it was a joy to work for!

We had such a great time at Firefly 2015 and we can’t wait till next year! What are YOUR predictions for the Firefly 2016? Tell us in the comments below!

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