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Mid-Missouri PrideFest welcomes all to two-day event

People march during the PrideFest

People march during the PrideFest on Saturday at Rose Music Hall in Columbia. The homecoming march took place at the beginning of the fest.

Boisterous color and shining glitter overtook Rose Music Hall on Saturday for the first day of the Mid-Missouri PrideFest.

Even with temperatures reaching well into the 90s, people from all over the state came to celebrate pride and express themselves.

Kore Ellis and Ari Ellis hug each other at PrideFest

Kore Ellis and Ari Ellis hug each other at PrideFest on Saturday at Rose Music Hall in Columbia. This is the first PrideFest since 2019. 

The two-day event hosted a variety of food vendors, performances and activities for the whole family. The event was extended to span the full weekend after COVID-19 caused the cancellation of 2020’s PrideFest.

“I want to be here to celebrate the community,” said festival attendee Daz Murray. “I feel like a lot of people, when they find out that they are trans, they feel a lot of fear. They come here to be celebrated and accepted.”

A PrideFest attendee wears a t-shirt reading “We are all humans”

A PrideFest attendee wears a t-shirt reading “We are all humans” Saturday at Rose Music Hall in Columbia. People dressed up in all colors of the rainbow at the festival.

This is Art Smith’s second PrideFest. He offers dad hugs to anyone at the celebration.

“I’m trying to share a little bit of love and let people know that they are appreciated,” Smith said. “It’s life-changing. Three people told me they never had a dad hug.

“Everyone deserves a hug,” he said.

Art Smith wears a ‘Free Hugs’ t-shirt

Art Smith wears a “Free Hugs” T-shirt during PrideFest on Saturday at Rose Music Hall. “Three people told me they never had a dad hugging them, and everyone deserves a hug,” Smith said.

To start off the first day of PrideFest, a homecoming procession walked through the grounds with pride flags and candy.

“Anything that has to do with pride, I feel very included,” fest-goer Mary Birmingham said.

Jade Embley and Alexis Simmerman attend PrideFest

Jade Embley and Alexis Simmerman attend PrideFest together Saturday at Rose Music Hall. PrideFest will continue Sunday, with more festivities including performances by the Missouri Symphony and Crystal Methyd.

Drag shows and musical performances were planned for later in the evening.

The fest is free to the public. Visitors to the festival can grab a bite to eat from various food vendors and interact with sponsors.

Michelle Daytona attends PrideFest

Michelle Daytona attends PrideFest on Saturday at Rose Music Hall. This is the first PrideFest since 2019. “Pride is freedom of being yourself as you’re meant to be,” Daytona said.

“It’s such an awesome and happy time,” said Paige Orscheln, an employee of U.S. Bank.

PrideFest sponsors lined the street where people could receive free glitter, pins and candy. Other sponsors such as Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, Lizzi and Rocco’s Natural Pet Market and Spectrum Health Care were present at the event.

“We love gay pride, and we support it. We think people should be themselves,” Kindle Concessions employee Lisa Tatum said.

Food vendors such as Big Daddy’s BBQ and Ozark Mountain Biscuit Co. served festival-goers.

When asked about the significance of the festival, attendee Michelle Daytona said, “Pride is freedom of being yourself as you’re meant to be.”

Pride and American flags wave in the air

Pride and American flags wave in the air at PrideFest on Saturday at Rose Music Hall in Columbia. Hundreds of people attend the festival, which spilled out onto the street.

  • Community and Special Sections reporter, Fall 2021 Studying environmental journalism Reach me at kabcg7@umsystem.edu or the newsroom at 573-882-5700

  • Assistant city editor, grad student studying investigative reporting and photojournalism. You can reach me at cjmx5d@umsystem.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

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