Ladyfest Dayton: celebrate art, women and community


Ladyfest Dayton: celebrate art, women and community

Want to go?

What: Ladyfest Dayton

Where: Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. 4th St., Dayton

When: September 2-3, 2016

Cost: $10 presale tickets available at Clash Gallery & Boutique, $12 day of event, or $7 per day

Info: Ladyfest Website

Sometimes a good idea needs a little help to keep the momentum going forward.

Though she’s quick to reject credit for resurrecting Ladyfest Dayton, main organizer Paige Beller certainly has put the annual celebration of women’s art, music, and film on her shoulders and gone the extra mile.

“I feel like (Beller) is being modest. (She) is the main spark that has kept Ladyfest alive,” visual arts organizer Sara George said.

This year's event will be held September 2-3  at the Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. 4th St., Dayton. 

The initial Ladyfest originated in Olympia, Washington in 2000, and spread to other cities across the country. A group organized the first Dayton version in 2008, but, for various reasons, the event ran out of gas after 2011.

That’s when Beller stepped in—or was drafted—last year.

“It got started up again, and then it kind of fell in my lap. Then I dragged Sara into it,” Beller joked.

Ladyfest 2015 proved a massive undertaking to organize for Beller, George and their small team. Thanks in part to the help of volunteers, the two-day event received rave reviews throughout the local art community.

Beller and George say their team has made this year’s festival bigger, and hopefully, better.

“I think we just had a little more time this year. We had a lot of ideas last year that we didn’t have time to do,” said Beller. “We had a lot of ideas this year that we didn’t have time to do. I sometimes get a little too big for my britches.”

Among those changes is more indoor space, allowing the fest to host twice as many visual artists as the year before. All the music has been moved inside, with a second acoustic stage added.

The outdoor area will be occupied with carnival games, food trucks, and more than 20 vendors. A movie tent will mark another first for the event this year.

But there’s going to be more than just art, food, games and people selling things.

A mobile unit offering help getting financial assistance to those who can’t afford mammograms will be on site Friday, while Equitas Health will provide Hepatitis C risk assessments at no charge on Saturday.

Organizers want to focus on the local community, and Ladyfest Dayton does that with an exclamation point.

“We just wanted to make sure that anybody who had a cause was invited. We made sure that it was pretty open. I really want people that are there to network with each other from these different organizations and show people they can get involved,” Beller said.

Last year’s Ladyfest raised more than $6,500 in ticket sales and donations for Kettering’s We Care Arts center. The group hopes to do even more for the YWCA this year.

“While the YWCA is a national organization, this applies specifically to our downtown Dayton location. They’re desperately in need of funds and supplies as well,” Beller said. “We want people to be able to see and go to the place where their money went. It all comes down to what we’re doing it for in the end. Where does the money go?”

And it’s not all about money. Ladyfest will accept donations of items on YWCA’s wish list, which can be viewed through the event’s website.

Though the festival is focused primarily on local artists and causes, this year’s event has attracted the talents of people from places like Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Boston, Nashville and San Diego.

But the organizers stress: this is not just for women.

“If you love and respect woman, and you like art, having a good time, and you care about your community and like to give back, come,” insisted George.

“It’s a female-run and empowered festival. It’s got soul. It’s got a heartbeat.”

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