Ladybug Music Festivals canceled, moving online

The band Frantastic Noise performs during last year’s Ladybug Music Festival in Milford. (Delaware State News file photo)

MILFORD — Add Milford’s Ladybug Milford Festival to the list of events canceled by the coronavirus crisis.

Downtown Milford Inc., in conjunction with Wilmington-based Gable Music Ventures, producers of the event, has decided to not hold the third annual female-fronted event, originally scheduled for Sept. 12.

“The ultimate decision came from Downtown Milford,” said Jeremy Hebbel, co-founder of Gable Music Ventures.

“I just think there was too much concern with keeping people safe with there being just this big open space. It just would have been thousands of people. It’s one thing when it’s ticketed and you can control the amount of people coming in and out and control the capacity. You can put strict policies in place like wearing a mask and you have to get your temperature checked and all that kind of stuff. But it’s just harder when it’s an open block party like this.”

The larger two-day Ladybug Music Festival in Wilmington, started in 2012, has also been canceled.

But it’s not all bad news.

In place of the in-person events will be an online festival June 29 and 30 boasting an array of female talent that Mr. Hebbel says are “some much, much bigger names than we’ve ever been able to work with before.”

Announcements of some of the names and a ticket link should start appearing Wednesday evening but Mr. Hebbel said he’s excited about the event, which will run from 5 to 10 p.m. each day.

“There will be somewhere between 40 and 50 performances over two days, It’s just not going to be back-to-back music We’re going to be mixing in fun little things for people to do and interact with and highlighting different organizations that are around the country that are doing really cool things,” he said.

“But it’s really really a big undertaking that we’re really excited about. It’s not been hastily put together. It’s something we’ve been working on now since it became apparent that these events were not going to happen in person.”

While the events have been free to attend in the past, the admission for the online festival will be $20 with proceeds going to two charities — Downtown Visions, a nonprofit group that funds community development projects in Wilmington, and Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which provides financial assistance to career musicians and music industry workers who are struggling to make ends meet.

“We haven’t named Downtown Milford Inc. as a recipient of any of these funds. But certainly we are hopeful that we’ll be able to utilize some of these funds to roll into the budget for this event,” Mr. Hebbel said.

“But I know that, especially with the Wilmington event, us not being able to hold this event in July when we usually do, it’s a several thousand dollar hit to a lot of these restaurants and bars that are in a really tough time of year when there’s really nothing going on and so on top of everything else being shut down from COVID and being pretty much out of business except for take out and delivery for a couple months, we just really wanted to try and give back to the businesses that have been hosting music for us for nine years. We feel badly and we feel responsible in some way and we wanted to try and do that.

“With the Milford businesses, it’s a little less clear for us, just because the event is newer, just how much of an impact we have on some of those restaurants and businesses. The decision to cancel Milford came as we were pretty much finalizing the online event. And so we were really targeting Downtown Visions and that national organizations for artists, which is the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. We’ve had discussions internally (with Downtown Milford Inc.) saying it would be nice that if the event is a big enough success that we’d be able to kind of wrap some of the funds that come in into the budget from this year to next year but we haven’t committed to a certain amount.”

Mr. Hebbel said it’s also possible that they will do another online festival specifically for Milford later in the year but those plans are still pending.

The past two years of Ladybug in Milford have seen thousands of people turn out to hear scores of female musicians in shops, restaurants and open-air stages.

Another local event, produced by Gable Music Ventures, Smyrna at Night, a townwide beer and music festival, had previously been rescheduled from June to Sept. 5.

Mr. Hebbel says all systems should be go on that event barring further restrictions.

Acts announced so far include Big Sam’s Funky Nation, The Ladybugs of Soul, Joe Keyes and the Late Bloomer Band and local favorites Mike Hines and The Look.