Inaugural Ladybug Festival in Milford wins Southern Delaware Tourism’s 2018 best new event award

City of Milford Mayor Archie Campbell, DMI Board President Sara Pletcher, DMI Executive Director Murrie Zlotziver, Gable Music Ventures co-owners Jeremy Hebbel and Gayle Dillman, Gallery 37 co-owners and Ladybug Music Festival – Milford sponsors, Marcia Reed and David Pickrell show off the award.

The Ladybug Music Festival – Milford, coordinated by Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI) and Gable Music Ventures in Wilmington, received the Southern Delaware Tourism’s 2018 best new event award. The award was one of four presented at the organization’s Tourism Awards Luncheon on Thursday, December 6.

“We’re honored and humbled to be recognized for our work in making The Ladybug Music Festival – Milford a smashing success,” said Sara Pletcher, DMI Board President and co-organizer of the event.  “It was a great day for Milford and it’s be a joy to relive it with the winning of this award.”

Southern Delaware Tourism presented DMI and Gable Music Ventures with a personalized trophy, which will rotate around Milford over the next several months.  All Ladybug Music Festival – Milford venues will host the trophy for a week or two, so community members can see the trophy while they’re exploring Downtown Milford.

The Ladybug Festival – Milford, held on Saturday, Sept. 22, was a first-time event for Sussex County, though The Ladybug Festival has been presented in Wilmington for the past seven years. The Festival is the largest celebration of women in music and is a vehicle to promote economic development. Over 40 female artists and female led bands performed in 15 different venues (shops) and a main outdoor stage. The festival brought close to 3,000 visitors to Downtown Milford. It is estimated that over half were first-time visitors to the City coming from as far away as Norway as well the surrounding states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. This included the metropolitan areas of NYC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.

The Ladybug Music Festival was created by Gayle Dillman and Jeremy Hebbel, principles of Gable Music Ventures, as an alternative to the male dominated Firefly Festival to showcase talented local and regional female artists. With its growing success and popularity over the last several years in Wilmington they were ready to branch out and cultivate a second location for Ladybug. It was quite the coincidence that they landed in Milford. Not realizing that 42 years ago a group of Milford elementary students researched and recommended the ladybug become Delaware’s state bug.

“We had no idea that was the case,” Mr. Hebbel said.  “Gayle and I chose the name Ladybug as a representation for the female artists.”

The Ladybug Festival – Milford was a true collaboration between DMI, Gable Music Ventures, and the City of Milford.  The Festival would not have been possible without local business sponsors, including Milford’s Gallery 37 owners Marcia Reed and David Pickrell, and all of the volunteers.

DMI would like to thank the Milford community and all of the music fans who came out for the event and a special thanks for the recognition and award from Southern Delaware Tourism.

Next year’s event is set for Saturday, September 21.  If you would like to be part of this project or any of DMI’s worthwhile events and support our efforts, contact Murrie Zlotziver at 302-839-1180 or email

Downtown Milford, Incorporated, is a dynamic multi-faceted economic development organization that serves as positive force in the community at large. We work with business and property owners to beautify, revitalize, protect, preserve, and promote our historic riverside district. DMI operates as 501c3 nonprofit organization and is accredited through the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Downtown Delaware Program.

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