Celebrating Creativity Of Women

Ladyfest Dayton Returns This Weekend

By Kyle Melton

Ladyfest Belly Dancers, Photo by Charles Gast

This weekend, and for the third year, Ladyfest Dayton returns to arts incubator c}space to present a showcase for female artists in the Dayton area. Led by festival organizer Mary Kathryn Burnside and joined this year by Heather Lea Reid, Heather Jones, Jenn Money and Lissa Lush (a.k.a. Melissa Trent), Ladyfest Dayton serves as a beacon for women throughout the region to join together and share their creativity through a number of mediums. Although only established in Dayton in 2008, the traditions of Ladyfest reach

back a decade.

“The original Ladyfest started in Olympia, Washington, 10 years ago this past August,” Burnside explained. “That’s the only year they had it. From that point on, it had gone on to other cities. Every year it keeps going from place to place, but it doesn’t always carry on (in places where it’s been held previously). I think it’s really cool that we’ve kept it going and that it will continue.”

A key factor in the presentation of Ladyfest Dayton, the art-level art incubator c}space has served as the venue for each of the first two years. In fact, the first event held at c}space was Ladyfest Dayton in 2008.

“Honestly, I don’t know if Ladyfest would happen without c}space,” Burnside said. “I have no idea where we would have it. We couldn’t have it above The Armory like The Sideshow was – it’s not big enough. We can’t afford to rent the Dayton Convention Center. We can’t have it in a bar. (c}space) is big enough to hold everyone. We had a stage built for the first Ladyfest and we left it there. We have plenty of blank walls that are always changing. The whole place is a canvas. You can do anything you want with it. There isn’t (another) place you can do that.”

As the point person for Ladyfest Dayton in its previous years, Burnside sought outnew collaborators this year in an attempt to ensure the future success of the event.

“This year my main priority was to try to teach other girls how to organize it and what to do because I’m not planning on living in Dayton much longer. I’d like to see Ladyfest continue. I don’t want to leave and have it just stop. So I wanted to try to get other girls that have been involved in the past that have an interest in it that would keep it going and would teach others to keep it going when they were finished with it.”

Over the course of three days, Ladyfest Dayton seeks to present to audiences a sampling of the creative DIY (Do It Yourself) impulse found within the female community in the Dayton region. Featuring visual artists such as Amy Kollar Anderson, musical acts like Vanity Theft and Real Lulu, culinary offerings from Bombshell Bakeshop and Butter Cafe, as well as 17 craft artisans that will be featured in the Ladyfest Marketplace, this year’s event showcases some of the Miami Valley’s most notable female talents. Additionally, there will be a number of workshops held throughout the weekend designed to inform and educate audiences on everything from jewelry-making to bellydancing to changing the oil in your car.

“It’s very DIY,” Reid says. “This week I was researching ideas for the background for the stage and I came across Ladyfest (info) from around the world and it doesn’t matter if it’s LA or any other big city, or small city, they all have that DIY feeling really strong. It’s women working on this from the ground up. We’re all doing that. They’re all so far away, but we’re all putting the same thing into it.”

While Ladyfest Dayton seeks to connect women at the event, proceeds go to further support women’s and art interests in the area. This year’s charities are The Noble Circle, PUSH and c}space. Between raising awareness of women’s issues and spotlighting the creative impulses of women in various artistic mediums, Ladyfest Dayton seeks to engage and inspire women in the community.

“I think, not just for women, but in general people have that sense of community and family,” Reid explained. “There’s something about these events that we put on that bridge all sorts of art, to know that people are creating.”

“I think everybody has some kind of creative part about them and they may not have found it yet,” Burnside added. “They may some see some particular form of art that they can relate to and they may go home and try to do the same kind of thing or listen to music they’ve never heard before. We have such a huge variety. There’s something there for everyone that they can enjoy, but then be introduced to things too.”

“Every year it unifies people in a different way,” Money concluded. “I think that’s the importance of
Ladyfest Dayton.”

Ladyfest Dayton will be held Friday, September 3 through Sunday, September 5 at c}space, 20 N. Jefferson St.
Music begins at 5 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $10 Friday and Saturday; free Sunday. For more
information, visit www.LadyfestDayton.com

Reach DCP freelance writer Kyle Melton at contactus@

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