Despite the extraordinary heat, throngs of excited music fans turned out Thursday for the opening night of the 6th annual Ladybug Music Festival in Wilmington. Festival organizers estimate that 5,000 dropped by several of the free concert venue locations on Market Street between 5 and 10 pm to enjoy music from two dozen artists — all fronted by women.
The night’s festivities took place between 3rd and 4th Streets, with the main stage just up from LOMA coffee. The free block party, with exhibitors, food and beverage trucks, attracts music lovers up and down the state who appreciate the niche that Ladybug Music Festival fills in the summer concert arena.
“There’s really no female fronted events, very few, across the entire country,” said aid Gayle Dillman, CEO of Gable Music Ventures and the lead planner of the event along with partner Jeremy Hebbel. “There’s a real chasm between the Beyonce and so many other wonderful female artists, and we are so proud to showcase many of these talented singers right here in Wilmington.”
This was an ambitious year for event organizers, as they expanded the festival to two nights. And tonight, when the festival moves to the 800 block of Market Street (near the The Grand), art and dance and art will be incorporated into the offerings. Lining up twice as many acts and expanding the offerings seemed like the right thing to do as the crowds virtually doubled year after year.
“This is effort to make the festival into more of a city-wide event and a signature weekend event, incorporating not just music but interactive art, visual arts and contemporary dance,” said Dillman. In fact, Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki stepped on stage last evening to present organizers a proclamation declaring July 20th and 21st “Ladybug Days” in the City of Wilmington.
Well-known music artists now consider the Ladybug Music Festival to be a major summer event, and this has given Dillman and Hebbel the opportunity to become a bit more selective. They are especially proud of this year’s main stage headliners, which include R&B singer Nadja Nicole, who will close out Friday’s concert at the Baby Grand. But all of the singers TSD heard perform last night were terrific, with soloists hitting all the right keys and songs enveloping their audiences.
“We’re attracting from as far away as California, Canada and Cuba. We’re on the radar now and are known as a great festival where you are going to get an opportunity to play in front of a big group of people. Women musicians want to come out and be heard,” said Dillman. This is an opportunity to help women launch themselves as artists and bring lots of joy to the community at the same time.”
Thanks to Moonloop Photography for the two photos they contributed to this article.