Festival to Celebrate Women Artists

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Staff Report

On Monday, January 29, Downtown Milford, Inc. announced their partnership to bring The Ladybug Music Festival® to Milford on Saturday, September 22, 2018. The Ladybug Music Festival® is a free block party celebrating women in music that provides a valuable economic boost for the community.

Gayle Dillman and Jeremy Hebbel started The Ladybug Music Festival in 2012 in Downtown Wilmington as a free to attend alternative to the Firefly Music Festival. Not knowing the ladybug is the Delaware state bug or that it was named as such thanks to a 1974 class at Lulu Ross Elementary School here in Milford, Gable Music Ventures chose the name based on the bug reference of Firefly and the musical acts they wished to host, all female acts or female-fronted acts. The irony, however, was bound to lead The Ladybug Music Festival to the City of Milford as the team stumbled upon downtown Milford last Fall and fell in love with the Riverwalk and Downtown business district. They knew that day that Milford was the perfect place to expand their Festival to a second location.

“Bringing Ladybug to Milford is a step in realizing our dream to celebrate women in music, art and dance with as many people as possible,” said Dillman. “We will give a platform for women while encouraging people to experience the amazing City of Milford.”

The Festival serves many purposes. It is a free community event, highlighting female artists and most important to DMI, has economic development opportunities. DMI is a non-profit organization that promotes the civic, commercial and cultural development of Milford’s historic central business district. As an accredited Main Street organization, the organization utilizes the four-point approach to revitalize the downtown, one of which is economic development. The Ladybug Festival and Gable Music Ventures is credited with bringing thousands of people into Wilmington to dine and support original local music every year, so the DMI Board of Directors believed this partnership was a perfect match.

“I am excited to see the streets and merchants of our downtown filled with residents and visitors,” said DMI President Sara Pletcher. “This festival will bring great music and reinforce our strong sense of community.”

The festival will also place artists in vacant buildings in the downtown area in hopes to attract investors or entrepreneurs to underutilized spaces. “The music has the opportunity to create economic development if fans can see the space and envision what is possible,” said Pletcher. “This type of business recruitment would be a dream come true.”

The Ladybug Music Festival in Wilmington grew from a one-day 300 attendee event the first year in 2012 to a two-day 10,000 plus attendee event last year and in their six-year history, the event has hosted over 250 local and national artists. National headliners at the Wilmington Festival included Mary Lambert, Larkin Poe and Caroline Rose. This year’s Wilmington Festival has already received over 140 artist submissions and Gable is excited to search for female artists local to Milford and Kent and Sussex Counties. The online submission application is available at theladybugfestival.com/artist-submission and the lineup for the Milford Festival will be announced by July 20, which is the first day of the Wilmington event this year.

Utilizing as many local businesses as possible for Festival production, the Festival will have a main outdoor stage in Downtown Milford and multiple smaller venues in local store fronts, bringing foot traffic inside Downtown Milford businesses. During Monday’s press conference, DMI announced that seven Milford small businesses and organizations have already jumped on board to host artists including Arena’s Milford, Gallery 37 – A Destination for Artful Living, Irish Rose, Lifecycle, Milford Antiques, Red Bandana and the Riverfront Theater. The festival will also utilize the outdoor community amphitheater on the Mispillion River behind the Milford Library. Any businesses or groups interested in being involved, to potentially host artists, or support the event as a sponsor, should call the DMI office at 302-839-1180 for more information.

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