Women in the arts dig them out at Ladyfest Dayton

By Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

Photo: Lisa Bird of Whiskey for Kids marks a long lineup of rockers at Ladyfest Sept. 2 and 3; photos: Jennifer Taylor

Telling a little boy he could one day be a good father may not be as effective as actually showing him an example of a man being a good father. Telling a little girl she could one day be an engineer or president or musician may not be as effective as actually showing her an example of a woman doing those very things. Since 2008, Ladyfest has been showing our city that woman can be musicians, artists, authors, poets, comedians, community leaders and just general all-around badasses. The practice continues this weekend with Ladyfest Dayton 2016.

“As a female, I would have loved to have had something like this when I was younger,” says event organizer and musician Paige Beller. Beller’s band, Jasper the Colossal, will play along with dozens of other musicians, including ABIYAH, Whiskey for Kids, and Glitter Trash. The S.O.N.A Songwriter Stage will have acoustic performances from local singer/songwriters such as Ashley Knapp, Wild Mountain Berries, and Sharon Lane.

The first Ladyfest in 2000 was held in Olympia, Washington, with performances from Riot Grrrl bands Sleater-Kinney and Bratmobile, both featuring a full roster of women. The week was packed full of punk and politics, helping to redefine “ladylike” for the new millennium. It was one of those great ideas that really took hold and began popping up in independently organized franchises all around the world, kind of like TEDx and PechaKucha.

You may hear the “lady” part of Ladyfest and wonder if only those identifying as women are welcome. Let us assure you: everyone is welcome to share in the awesomeness of the festival. This event isn’t about exclusion; it’s about giving a megaphone to the rip-roaring talent of lady Daytonians. And yeah, men are a part of that, too.

Dayton artists, including Courtnie Cottrill, Alyshia Osborn, Fe Meier, and Tiffany Clark + ETCH, will be showcased in the small and large galleries of Yellow Cab Tavern. In addition to the gallery masterpieces, Ladyfest will have live expos such as Kelly Zullo’s van, which she has turned into a functional living space.

Musicians and artists won’t be the only ones in the spotlight. A curated reel of films written, directed, and produced by Dayton women will play in the movie tent. Represent will give a spoken word performance on Friday. Burlesque group Hexa will scintillate and Dayton Celtic Academy will give us a jig with their performances on Saturday. And the comedy showcase hosted by Karen Jaffe will feature stand-up from the likes of Lori Graves, Leslie Battle, and Jessica Graue.

“I’m bringing some very funny ladies to Ladyfest again this year,” Jaffe says. “There seems to be a misconception about female comedians that we just can’t shake…that women aren’t funny. I don’t mind having to work harder to prove people wrong, and neither do most of my hilarious cohorts.”

“I’ve asked some of my favorites to bring their best jokes, and all of us are so excited,” Jaffe continues. “Ladyfest is an amazing opportunity to meet talented artists, musicians, and all-around fabulous people. I had a blast last year and can’t wait to be a part of it again.”

“Every year, Ladyfest Dayton has a benefactor,” Sara George, who is helming the visual arts of this year’s festival. “In the past, we have raised money for Artemis house, Planned Parenthood, and just last year we raised over $6,000 for WeCareArts.”

“To me, Ladyfest is about the community as a whole coming together to raise money for a great cause,” says vendor coordinator Liz Rilling, who has organized many new artisans offering a variety of handmade items. “This year, it’s the Dayton YWCA women’s shelter.”

YWCA Dayton helps thousands of women every year by providing shelter and housing services, teen services, childcare services, advocating for wage equality, and working to eliminate domestic violence. They have been empowering women and promoting racial justice in the Dayton community since 1870. Items for the YWCA will be collected at the event, including blankets, shoes, and baby supplies.

And this year at Ladyfest, you can do even more than catch a phenomenally diverse show while supporting a worthy cause: you can take care of your own health. On Friday, Premier Health will provide mammograms in their mobile mammography coach (call 844.453.4199 to make an appointment), and Equitas Health (formerly AIDS Resource Center Ohio) will be providing HCV risk assessment and testing on both Friday and Saturday from 6 – 8 p.m.

“Ladyfest Dayton is an organization that has always been near and dear to my heart, even before I became an organizer,” George says. “I can remember in my early 20s going to C-space and being immersed in every aspect of the festival, from the art pieces to the poetry and bands that played. It’s an event celebrating women, created by women in the community to better
that community.”

Ladyfest Dayton 2016 will take place Friday, Sept. 2 from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Saturday, Sept. 3 from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. 4th St. in Dayton. Festival admission is $7 per day or $12 for both days. Two-day presale passes for $10 are available at Clash, 521 E. 5th St. in the Oregon District. For more information and a complete list of items being collected for the YWCA, please visit

Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin is a writer and cartographer living in Dayton, Ohio. She can be reached at or through her website at


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About Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

View all posts by Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin
Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin is a writer and amateur cartographer living in Dayton, Ohio. She has been a member of PUSH (Professionals United for Sexual Health) since 2012 and is currently serving as Chair. She can be reached at or through her website at

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