Ladyfest GR highlight local female talent

Though Women’s History Month has just passed with the ending of March, the time for celebrating the accomplishments of women is not over. Ladyfest GR, an organization supporting women and girls, will be holding their fifth annual event on April 2, complete with workshops and performances held by women, highlighting the things that women have to offer and teach to the community.

Ladyfest GR began in 2012 after Jes Kramer, one of the organizers, attended a Ladyfest event in Traverse City, and then met together with Tami Vandenberg and Sarah Scott, who have both organized women’s events in Grand Rapids in the past. The three of them began to talk about an annual event.  

“The Ladyfest name gets used all over the world to describe events that focus on female performers, workshop leaders and non-profit beneficiaries. We got to decide what the Grand Rapids version would look like, and that has been really exciting,” said Kramer.

Ladyfest GR is planned by a committee of volunteers who dedicate a lot of time to this day, and the event is supported by donations from many local businesses, such as The Pyramid Scheme, donate their space for the event each year. This year, Grand Rapids businesses Seeds of Justice, Sparrows, IC Hair and Vintage, Birthsong, Harmony Hall and GVSU Women’s Center will also be supporting Ladyfest GR. Other performances, as well as workshops, discussions and films that had been shown at the Feminist Film Festival will be housed at Heartside Studio, Stella’s Lounge and Have Company. More information about the schedule of  the workshops and performances can be found on Ladyfest GR’s Facebook page.

Each year, Ladyfest supports a local nonprofit, and this year and last, Ladyfest GR has decided to support Girls Rock! Grand Rapids, a nonprofit group that is dedicated to empowering girls and women through music. “Our hope is by choosing beneficiaries like Girls Rock! Grand Rapids, we can help foster the next generation of strong, inclusive and confident women,” said Kramer.

This is fitting, as a big part of Ladyfest GR is putting on performances such as variety shows and musical acts, all of which can be attended with a $10 wristband. All proceeds go to benefit Girls Rock! Grand Rapids.

Ladyfest isn’t just for women or about women. Men are invited and encouraged to attend, as the music is intended to be accessible to all people. It is simply an event in which all of the entertainment and programming are provided by women. In addition to the performances, Ladyfest GR also holds free workshops throughout the day held by women to address topics such as mental health, self-care and eating well within one’s budget.

Even better, some of the girls from Girls Rock! Grand Rapids perform during the daytime shows and variety shows, and since the event is all-ages, families bring their kids throughout the day. “I always leave thinking about how important it is for those kids to see women telling their stories, playing the drums or teaching a room full of people to fix their bikes. There are so many roles we just get used to seeing men fill, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Kramer.