Ladybug Festival to bring music to Milford

Twin sisters Nalani & Sarina will perform on the main stage at 6:15 p.m. Saturday as part of the all-day Ladybug Festival throughout Milford. A version of the all-female music event started in downtown Wilmington in 2011. (Submitted photo)

MILFORD — Live music. Local beers and wines. Food trucks. Community.

The Ladybug Music Festival will have music taking over businesses in downtown Milford for a whopping six hours Saturday afternoon into the evening.

“The Ladybug Festival has been happening every summer in downtown Wilmington for the past seven years and bringing a music festival of that caliber to downtown Milford is exciting,” Downtown Milford, Inc. Board President Sara Pletcher said.

“Residents should be excited to welcome visitors to our city, to enjoy the free live music at 16 different venues, and the opportunity to make memories downtown.”

More than 40 female artists and women-led acts will be heard throughout the 16 venues at no cost, including internationally known headliner Vanessa Collier, who will be the sole performer from 8 until 9 p.m.

Vanessa Collier, a blues rock singer and saxophone player, will headline this year’s Ladybug Festival in Milford, playing at 8 p.m. on the main stage. (Submitted photo)

Ms. Collier, a blues rock singer and saxophone player, has three Blues Music Award Nominations for Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year (2018) and Horn Player of the Year (2018 and 2017). She also has a Blues Blast Award nomination, the Jammingest Pro Award bestowed by the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, First Place for lyrics in the International Songwriting Competition and Best of 2014 Blues Breaker on Dan Aykroyd’s BluesMobile. She is a 2013 graduate of Berklee College of Music and has already released three albums.

Ms. Collier’s recent album released this year, “Honey Up,” is currently on the blues charts.

Dover-based Hoochi Coochi plays The Ladybug Festival main stage Saturday at 4;30 p.m. (Submitted photo)

Performers also include the New Jersey pop, rock and soul duo Nalani & Sarina; the Dover-based indie blues band Hoochi Coochi, Philadelphia’s Joy Ike, Lewes country singer Sara Ann Garrison and many more.

The talent goes far beyond just Ms. Collier, organizers say.

“There are really some stellar, stellar levels of talent on these artists,” said Jeremy Hebbel, of Gable Music Ventures, the Wilmington-based producers of the event.

“Whereas they [attendees] may not recognize their names, people are really going to be blown away. I know with the Wilmington festival — people come out and they just fall in love with these artists.”

Gable Music Ventures, consisting of Mr. Hebbel and Gayle Dillman, started the Ladybug Music Festival in 2011 hoping to help revitalize downtown Wilmington and bring excitement to a sleepy town in the middle of the summer.

It worked.

They engaged five venues and about 20 music acts with an attendance of around 300 people in their first year. Attendance seemed to double each year.

“We know that what happened in Wilmington. In the first year, we had 300 people. We had 700 in the second year. We saw it doubling every time. Every time when people would come back, they would bring friends,” Mr. Hebbel said.

Calla Bere and The Attitude his the stage of the Gallery 37 on Walnut Street at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. (Submitted photo)

Organizers, with the help of Downtown Milford, Inc., hope to have the same experience in Milford.

“I’m hoping this festival draws in over 2,000 people with equal parts residents and visitors,” Ms. Pletcher said.

“The festival highlights women in music, but an underlying goal is economic development. If this festival brings someone into town who ultimately wants to open or expand their business in downtown Milford — then every ounce of time and money we’ve put into this festival was worth it.”

While musicians keep the community entertained from inside local businesses, attendees can also find dinner at local restaurants or food trucks, visit with vendors or enjoy wine and seltzers poured by Mispillion River Brewing and sponsored by NKS Distributors.

Volunteers are also being sought to help run the event.

“Most of the volunteer jobs are right in the middle of the action, so volunteers won’t even miss the live music,” Ms. Pletcher said. Volunteers can sign up online at

Mr. Hebbel thinks everyone from volunteers to attendees and business owners will enjoy the event.

Carolyn Marie plays Gallery 37 at 3 p.m. Saturday. (Submitted photo)

“There’s always going to be multiple venues of music going on at any given time. A lot of these artists are emerging, unknown. We’d like people to pop in and enjoy the day. Find something you like. There’s never a time where there is not music happening. Music brings us together,” he said.

Ms. Dillman shared the excitement for their upcoming event.

“There’s so little that is just about women in the music business. There’s so many incredible musicians out there anyways, but we wanted to support the women. And people who come into town for this, the chances are that they’ve never walked into the Mispillion Art Gallery or a place called Elegant Styles,” she said.

“We look at this as a way to help reignite excitement. What they experience when they come to the Ladybug Festival is a sense of community. This really cool thing is happening in my town. It really draws a wide variety of people who are all bonded by listening to music. And nothing bonds people together more than music — in a good way.”

Musicians will bring songs of every variety to the area. Attendees can start the party early by listening to the musicians by visiting the festival website at, where there is also a map and schedule of performers.

Philadelphia singer/songwriter Joy Ike will be at The Riverfront Theater at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. (Submitted photo)

“Despite it being a free event, it’s not low budget. A lot of people came together to offer a really cool party for Milford,” Mr. Hebbel said.

“We want everyone to enjoy this event regardless of economic status. We want this to be an economic boost to the community.”

“When we were looking for another venue, people told us Milford is a really cute town, a really cute city … It is really just picturesque with the Riverwalk. We had heard enough so we drove down, got out of the car and thought, ‘Wow. This is really perfect.’ We can’t wait for people who are fans in Wilmington and all over to come to Milford and have that same reaction.”

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