The inaugural Ladybug Festival in downtown Milford was a huge success with crowds lining the streets to listen to over 40 live performances by women in music. The festival was a collaboration between Gable Music Ventures and Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI). Organizers 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. Last year, the two presented DMI with an opportunity to bring the festival to downtown Milford to help expand the festival’s celebration of women in music to Southern Delaware.
“We felt an overwhelming level of support, not only from the wonderful residents in Milford and the surrounding area, but from the participating businesses that hosted artists,” said Hebbel. “We estimate that several thousand attended the inaugural event, and we can’t wait to build upon the Milford event in 2019.”
Local female artist, Milford High School graduate and local business owner Laura Wood Rust kicked off the Main stage at 3pm. “I knew I was going to be part of the event but when I was chosen to open on the big stage, I was thrilled,” said Rust. “Seeing people dancing in the street, watching all of the other talent female musicians and artists shine at what they do best…. amazing vibes going on in our awesome city on Saturday.”
Performing for over 25 years, Rust has been involved with performing on some level since high school. Her most notable projects have been Intuition, Down Tyme, Timeless and now Laura & Co. where she gets to collaborate with other local artists like Wall of Cain, who backed her during the Ladybug Festival.
Volunteers and members of DMI were excited to be a part of the unique experience that focused on highlighting Milford’s sense of place, a goal that the organization has helped to build over the years. “Downtown was loaded with so many new faces intermixed with members of our community. Add in perfect weather, top notch artists, and an overall happy vibe and it made for the best day Milford has seen in a long, long time,” said Sara Pletcher, President of Downtown Milford, Inc.
One of Pletcher’s favorite moments was being on stage before headliner Vanessa Collier. Organizer Dillman from Gable Music Ventures asked the crowd to help them see, by a show of hands, who was from Milford and who were first time visitors. The hands of visitors outnumbered those of Milfordians 2 to 1.
“Showcasing our Downtown to visitors is something DMI has strived to do for years. To do it with so many people on one day is a mission-driven success for our organization, our merchants, and the City as a whole,” said Pletcher. “ I hope people experienced that Milford, DE is a fun, hopping place and if someone is looking to open or expand their business, Milford is the place they should do it.”
Organizers hope to make this event a Milford tradition and will be meeting soon to talk about the possibility of a return next year.
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