When Ladyfest kicks off this weekend, organizer and co-founder Kelly Feirtag hopes the cars will be cleared in time from the entirety of Circuit avenue. This is good news.

After a triumphant return to live, in-person performance last year, the female-centric music festival is expanding from performances on just the lower half of Circuit avenue. That means more acts and more vendors.

The festival takes place on Saturday, Oct. 8 from 2 to 8 p.m.

Ladyfest originated in 2017 when Ms. Feirtag, former manager of The Ritz Café in Oak Bluffs, and musician Rose Guerin were redecorating the Ritz and noticed there weren’t enough photos of female musicians on the Island. To remedy this, they held a night of female-led music — all benefitting the domestic violence program CONNECT to End Violence — where they took photographs to hang on the walls. The event ballooned from there.

“We outgrew the Ritz very fast,” Ms. Feirtag said.

Co-organizer Rose Guerin — festival is Saturday, Oct. 8. — Jeanna Shepard

The next year, the festival took to the streets, spanning the lower half of Circuit avenue for two years in a row. In 2020 the pandemic drove the celebration online, but Ms. Feirtag noted that the fundraising for CONNECT had been stronger than ever.

“Every year it’s a challenge of ‘How can we pull this off?’” she said. “We just want to keep being able to raise money.”

CONNECT to End Violence is a dual domestic violence program and sexual violence crisis center, offering survivor advocacy, crisis counseling, community education and more through Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. On top of being the end of the summer season, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Ms. Feirtag said, and every year the festival’s proceeds help fund CONNECT’s services.

In past years, the festival has also taken on a political charge by encouraging attendees to register to vote.

“There’s always an eye on the political,” Ms. Guerin said. “There’s a lot of outrage and anger and sadness about some things that are happening but we also try to keep it a celebration.”

The festival’s lineup includes familiar favorites, from the Dock Dance Band to Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish. And for the first time, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) Big Band and Jazz Combo will be performing at the festival’s largest stage.

“We had been talking with [MVRHS music teacher] Ray Fallon on ways to get more young folks involved,” Ms. Guerin said. “That was also why we moved the festival to 2 p.m., for more of a family atmosphere.”

More than anything, Ms. Guerin describes the celebration as a “lovefest.”

“It’s the end of a busy season, we know everyone is tired, but everyone still rises to the occasion and lets loose.”

Ladyfest is a free event. For more information, visit ladyfestmv.com.