Arts and Entertainment in Kent County, Delaware
Heart of the Arts: The local arts and entertainment scene is alive and well.
When artist Anne Jenkins relocated to Milford last summer, she was pleasantly surprised to find that she was in good company. “There is a growing art scene here,” says Jenkins, whose husband, Lee Nelson, is director of Downtown Milford Inc. “I felt comfortable that I could make a living here.”
She quickly opened Anne Jenkins Art Gallery on Northwest Front Street and began organizing a self-guided tour of art-centric venues in Milford. “We’ll show what Milford has to offer in all the arts—even the culinary arts,” says the artist, who works in acrylics. (annejenkinsart.com)
The arts are thriving throughout Kent County, giving residents an opportunity to watch, learn and participate in the cultural community. For instance, they can take classes at The Music School of Delaware, which has a location on South Walnut Street in Milford. Or they can attend a concert given by students or faculty. The school has a Dover satellite, where its First State Youth Orchestra practices. (wilmingtonmusic.org)
Two art leagues in Kent County offer classes and boast galleries. The Mispillion Art League, formed in 2007, has some 200 members. “About 80 are amazingly prolific,” says Sharon Hepford, the league president. View their work in the league’s gallery on Northwest Front Street. (mispillionarts.org)
The Dover Art League, which has a gallery on Loockerman Street, is an active participant in First Friday. Each month, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., merchants feature performers and artist in their shops.
All the world is a stage for members of the Kent County Theatre Guild, which owns a 100-seat theater on Roosevelt Avenue that member Travis Kirspel calls “a small, intimate setting.” The group, founded in 1953, gives thespians like Kirspel the chance to walk the boards and make friends with similar interests. There are four annual productions. (kctg.org)
In Milford, the Second Street Players, a community theater group, perform at the scenic Riverfront Theatre. Works run from comedies to musicals to dramas to children’s productions. (secondstreetplayers.com)
The 268-seat Smyrna Opera House, built in 1869, has its own theater group, the Phoenix Players. Dessert productions allow the audience to mingle with the actors after the show. Other diverse offerings include concerts and the annual Smyrna’s Got Voice, an American Idol-esque competition that starts in February and ends with an April finale. “It nearly always sells out,” says director David Keller. (smyrnaoperahouse.org)
The Schwartz Center for the Arts’ productions are equally varied. The roster includes plays, comedy shows, children’s theater and musicals. (schwartzcenter.com)
Well-known acts, such as Tom Jones and Gladys Knight, have performed at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, which also has weekly entertainment in its restaurants and lounges. (doverdowns.com)
And some of the hottest performers thrill fans at the annual Delaware State Fair. A Kent County tradition since 1920, the 10-day event blends artisans with livestock—racing pigs, anyone?—a midway and main stage acts ranging from pop to country.
Consequently, people with a variety of tastes can leave saying, “Now that’s entertainment!” (delawarestatefair.com)