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30 Seconds with Gayle Dillman, Co-Founder of The Ladybug Festival

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Seven years ago, Gayle Dillman’s Gable Music Ventures created the largest all-female music celebration in the country—the Ladybug Festival—in Wilmington. Now Dillman, and Gable co-founder Jeremy Hebbel, are taking their free “live music block party” south by presenting a Ladybug Festival in Milford on Sept. 22.

 

How did you get into the music business?

The history of Gable goes back to 2011. We recognized that there was a need to showcase original music in town and we needed to do it for all ages. It was sparked by my daughter’s experience and frustrations with not having places to play.

 

You and Gable have certainly come a long way.

We’ve changed over the years. We started doing the little pop-ups downtown at Film Brothers in LOMA and then we eventually went over to what was then World Cafe Live at The Queen. We just kept having bigger and bigger events.

 

How has Gable helped change LOMA and downtown?

I’m going to toot my own horn here. When we started, hardly anybody was doing music anywhere. You’d go out to a bar or a restaurant and you were not likely to find any music. I think with our tenacity and our willingness to put music in virtually any place—like Extreme Pizza on Market Street [now Chicky’s Pizza Pub]—opened the doors for more people to take that chance. I wouldn’t take all the credit for it. I think we showed people Wilmington could be more of a destination for original music, not just cover music.

 

The popularity of Ladybug just keeps growing.

Certainly Ladybug has become really our defining business. It’s the event that we spend most of the year planning and now are looking to bring it to other locations, Milford being the first one. And looking to take it to two or three other places next year.

 

Is it truly the country’s largest all-female music festival?

We commissioned a company to research that and it came back and said we are, which is pretty incredible for Wilmington, Delaware. We’re really committed to bringing music here and it helps us to introduce Wilmington as a really cool place to come and play music.

 

Are acts clamoring to be a part of Ladybug?

We have hundreds and hundreds who submit. We have people from California to Maine, the UK, Ireland. This festival is on the radar in many different countries.

 

When you started Ladybug, did you envision that it would become this big?

Not at all. When we started, the crowd was about 300 and it was one outdoor stage. The second year, it doubled. Every year since it’s been exponential in growth.

 

How did the Milford event come about?

We were in Dover and just started driving and went to Milford. We were looking for a town downstate to hold a Ladybug. We went into one boutique and asked them about the town’s Bug & Bud Festival. They said we should talk to other store owners because they wanted to bring something new and exciting in. We pitched the idea with Downtown Milford Inc. and the mayor. They loved it. Lo and behold, the Ladybug Festival is going to be there.

Gayle Dillman//Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli

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