Six years ago, the walls of The Ritz Cafe were decorated head to toe with photographs of musicians who had graced the stage of the popular Oak Bluffs bar and music venue over the years. But Kelly Feirtag, the venue’s then-manager, said that there was one problem: the photos were only of men.

Teaming up with Island musician Rosie Guerin and owner of the Ritz, Larkin Stallings, Ms. Feirtag threw an all-women musician night and took pictures to diversify the decor. The evening’s profits were then donated to Connect to End Violence, the domestic and sexual violence resource center at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.

They called it Ladyfest.

The event has since bloomed into a half-day music festival, spilling out far beyond the Ritz and onto Circuit avenue. The seventh annual Ladyfest takes place this Saturday, Sept. 30 from 5 to 11 p.m., featuring 10 bands and two DJs on two stages, and numerous Island food and retail vendors.

“We really had a pinch-me moment that first night in 2017 when we were just inside the Ritz and there was a line around the block to get in the bar in the off-season,” said Ms. Feirtag. “We thought, 'we’re going to need a bigger boat,' and it’s just grown out onto the street since then.”

In the past, the festival spanned the entirety of Circuit avenue, which is closed to cars during the event. This year, Ladyfest will occupy only the northern-most half of the downtown strip, leaving easier vehicular access to businesses.

“I think that we grew really, really fast — faster than we had ever imagined,” said Ms. Feirtag. “So we’re trying on various changes to our layout and the size... and want to just make everyone as happy as possible.”

Ladyfest is free, but attendees are encouraged to make a donation of any amount when they enter. A significant portion of the proceeds will be donated to Connect to End Violence, said Ms. Guerin.

Last year, the festival raised nearly $25,000 for the organization, though spreading awareness about domestic violence and the services that Connect offers is just as important as the money, Ms. Guerin said.

“We want to let people who are dealing with these types of problems know that there’s a place for them to even just call and ask for advice,” said Ms. Guerin. “And sometimes that’s all people need to do to change the cycle of events that they seem to be stuck in.”

The festival’s lineup includes Dock Dance Band, Jemima James and Kate Taylor, Lucy Mayhew, Missis Biskis, Dwight and Nicole, Maryse Smith and the Off-Island Boys, Big Weather, The Outskirts and, of course, Ms. Guerin — Ms. Feirtag’s favorite performer to watch.

“[Ms. Guerin] always cuts herself short, and says that she doesn’t feel like she should take any spotlight,” said Ms. Feirtag. “But when people see Rosie play, especially at Ladyfest, their jaws are on the ground and all of these little girls are just melting in front of the stage because they’re so in love with her. It’s the best part of the day for me.”

Ms. Guerin does not play favorites with her fellow musicians and said that her most treasured part of the day is witnessing Islanders enjoy a night of music for a valuable cause that is close to her heart.

For the full performance lineup and other information about Ladyfest, visit