Ladybug Music Festival expands to Milford

MILFORD — Downtown Milford, Inc. hopes music will swarm Walnut Street and the surrounding area later this year.

An announcement inside city hall by DMI Monday detailed the expansion of the Ladybug Music Festival to include a second festival location Sept. 22 in downtown Milford.

Gayle Dillman and Jeremy Hebbel of Gable Music Ventures said they are excited to bring free music to the area and continue celebrating women in music, art and dance. Musicians featured in the festival are all women or part of women fronted bands.

“Seven years ago, I had a vision to create a platform for emerging artists performing original music for all ages to be heard,” Ms. Dillman said. “My company, Gable Music Ventures, has created many events over the years, but none that has had the social and economic impact than the Ladybug Music Festival. Bringing Ladybug to Milford is a step in our dream to celebrate women in music, art and dance with as many people as possible.”

Mr. Hebbel said choosing Milford was surprising, but it fit as soon as they toured downtown.

“Immediately upon parking the car, we were struck. It’s such a beautiful downtown. It’s wonderful,” Mr. Hebbel said.

The pair were enamored with the layout of downtown, the buildings, the riverfront and the people, many of whom had, to their surprise, heard of the Ladybug Music Festival previously.

Mr. Hebbel says choosing Milford as a location happened as a “happy accident,” much like the original choosing of the name “Ladybug Music Festival” in 2012 when the venture began.

Neither Mr. Hebbel, nor Ms. Dillman, knew the ladybug is the state bug for Delaware. They also didn’t know a 1974 class from LuLu Ross Elementary School in Milford petitioned legislators to make that designation a reality.

DMI Board President Sara Pletcher said Gable Music Ventures chose the name as spin-off of Firefly as they hoped the festival would offer a free alternative to the major music festival in Dover.

“The irony, however,” Ms. Pletcher explained, “was bound to lead the Ladybug Festival to the city of Milford, and we’re thrilled that they stumbled upon our downtown area last fall and fell in love with our Riverwalk and our downtown business district knowing this was the perfect place to expand their festival to a second location.”

The first Ladybug Music Festival to be held in Milford will take place Saturday, Sept. 22 from about 3-9 p.m. throughout the downtown area.

Seven businesses have already committed to offering indoor locations for musicians, according to festival organizers. Those businesses include Arena’s Milford, Gallery 37, Red Bandana, Milford Antiques and Friends, Irish Rose, Lifecycle and Riverfront Theatre. The festival will also utilize the ampitheatre near the Milford Public Library.

Ms. Pletcher said the Ladybug Music Festival can be credited in bringing thousands of people yearly to downtown Wilmington, the location of their July festival.

“The DMI board of directors and I agree that this was a perfect match,” she said during the announcement. “It grew from a one-day, 300 attendee event in 2012 to a two-day, 10,000 attendee event last year.”

More than 250 local and national acts have played during the festivals five-year history. The group has already received 140 submissions for this year. Milford’s lineup will be announced on the first day of the Wilmington event, July 20.

City Manager Eric Norenberg expressed support for the upcoming event and the city’s partnership with DMI.

“. . .More people, more excitement, more economic activity,” he said, “this will just continue to stimulate the downtown economy.”

The success of the festival will depend, in part, on the musicians and attendees, but also the businesses and others who support the group behind the scenes. Mr. Hebbel said sponsorships are needed and can be a “tremendous way” to show local residents that businesses support the city.

Businesses interested in hosting musicians or sponsoring the Ladybug Music Festival in Milford should call the DMI office at 302-839-1180 for more information. The festival can be found online at

Mr. Hebbel added, “To say that we are excited to continue to grow this event is an understatement. The Ladybug Music Festival has such a supportive and growing fanbase. We know that they will absolutely love the city of Milford when they attend this event.”

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at

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