Columbia Pride Fest to take place in Stephens Park

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | 9:10 p.m. CDT; updated 1:31 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — African dance, rock and folk bands, a Pride Idol and a gayest dog contest are just a few of the 13 confirmed entertainment acts for the 5th Annual Mid-Mo Pride Fest on Saturday at Stephens Lake Park.

Pride Fest is mid-Missouri’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender pride celebration and is sponsored and organized by the Mid-Missouri LGBT Coalition.

If you go

Events begin at noon on Saturday at Stephens Lake Park and wrap up at 8 p.m. with the start of the Atomic Dance Party at the Blue Note. All events are free, but a donation of $10 is suggested for the Atomic Dance Party.

Jennifer Baker, Pride Fest co-chair, admits that for the first time the coalition had to turn away performers.

“One thing we did was we opened up two stages as before we’ve always had one stage,” she said.

Pride festivals are annual events where LGBT individuals and their heterosexual family and friends celebrate their communities. Prides usually happen in June to recognize the anniversary of the gay liberation movement that began with the Stonewall riots in June 1969.

Linda Hayes, a Pride Fest committee member and representative of the Columbia chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, was involved with fundraising and planning for this year’s Pride Fest.

“Planning started the day after last year’s Pride Fest. It’s a year-round process,” she said.

Hayes explained that some of the profits from the festival will benefit the Center Project, an organization whose goal is to build an LGBT community center. This is the first year Pride Fest has set aside profit to donate to the Center Project.

The festival will also include events and crafts for kids that were arranged in part by Stacy Snow, a member on the board of directors at the Center Project. Snow said kids can play games, create a 3D rainbow ornament, enjoy face painting and enter a prize giveaway by creating art projects at Pride this year.

“The whole idea of the kid area is that families come and celebrate who they are and be around other families that are alike and different than they are,” Snow said.

With the festival growing every year the Coalition is looking for more volunteers and organizers to grow the event. Many pride festivals include parades and large-scale celebrations that Baker would like to see happen in Columbia.

“I’d love to see a 100 vendors out there. Something as large as Earth Day or Art in the Park,” she said.

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