A festival that began eight months ago on the west coast hits Bloomington today. Activities for Ladyfest Midwest will encompass women's issues as well as the arts.\nWorkshops will include women's self defense, how to combat "fat oppression," vegetarian/vegan recipe swap, women with disabilities panel discussion, spirituality and gender issues and more. Tickets are available for $15 for the whole weekend or $5 per day, payable by money order in advance, or by cash the day of the festival. Any proceeds from the festival will go to benefit the Middle Way House, 404 W. Kirkwood Ave.\nRegistration will be open today and Saturday at Secret Sailor Books, 202 N. Walnut St. The workshops will be held today and Saturday at Options for Better Living, 301 W. First St.; Lee's Martial Arts, 314 S. Walnut St.; Bloomingfoods, 3220 E. Third St.; and the Monroe County Public Library, 303 E. Kirkwood Ave.\nIndependent films will be shown Saturday at the Monroe County Public Library, and there will be an art display at the Runcible Spoon, 412 E. Sixth St. \nMusical acts including The Sissies, The Hussies, Love x Calvin, Pretty Pony, Penny Arcade, Karate Cowgirl, Violet Skin, The Star Death, Raunchy Reckless, Danielle McLelland, Drag King Half-time Show and Bionic Finger will be held today and Saturday evenings at Rhino's All-Age Music Club.\n"The festival's goal is to heighten community awareness about women's issues, through workshops, art, music and film," freshman Vanessa Kruse said.\nIt is an opportunity for women to voice their opinions on feminist issues and express themselves in a safe, positive and comfortable environment, Kruse said. People of different ages, sexual orientations, gender orientations, race and opinions are welcome to join and learn from each other. Kruse said it is something that people of all ages will enjoy.\n"It is a festival celebrating the creativity and sisterhood of women," Kruse said. \nGraduate student Elizabeth Bridges said she thinks this festival is a great idea because she is disturbed to see the message of Bloomington's devoted core of activists has been lost on much of the community. \n"Ladyfest will provide a forum where a true exchange of ideas can happen, rather than a confrontation," Bridges said.\nThe first Ladyfest was held in August in Olympia, Wash. Jennifer Fish, a Michigan native and general chair of the festival was inspired after performing spoken word in Olympia and decided to bring the festival to Bloomington. \n"By making this festival accessible to all genders, we hope to attract all people to come and take a peek at what's happening in the growing world of feminism," Fish said.\nAlthough the idea is to have fun, by bringing Ladyfest to Bloomington the people involved hope to raise money and awareness for the Middle Way House. The Middle Way House is a shelter and safe place for battered women and their children. \n"We are an organization whose mission is to end violence against women and children," Crisis Intervention Services Coordinator Amy Maidi said. \nThe Middle Way House is the only domestic violence shelter in Bloomington, so it is a necessity to keep it going, Maidi said.\n"Funding sources are getting more scarce," Maidi said, "and donations are what keeps us going." \nThe shelter can house 22 people. It is a confidential and safe transitional housing place for women. Middle Way House includes a domestic violence center, a rape crisis center, transitional housing, outreach programs, and economic development programs. It is free for women to stay there and counseling and support groups are offered. \nFor more information about Ladyfest Midwest, visit the Web site at ladyfest.cjb.net.
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