With gas prices soaring into the stratosphere, why not plan a few close-to-home trips this summer? A number of Pride events are an easy drive from the Twin Cities, so split the gas costs with a few friends, and venture forth!
East Central Minnesota Pride, which launched on June 5, 2005, has been held ever since on the first Sunday in June in Pine City.
According to Nate Johnson, author of Images of America: Pine City, who has been with Pine City Pride since its inception, says, “The event continues to grow. In its first year, it was predominantly a men’s gathering, but following events were opened up to all members of the GLBT community.
“Over the past few years, there have been dozens of new vendors and several hundred people present. More and more, people are realizing the importance of Pride in Outstate Minnesota. In the big cities, there isn’t the isolation or the feeling of being second-class. Pride is the time that the GLBT people in these small towns can gather together, and, in doing so, feel included and respected.”
Paul Wilkens, a member of the 11-year old East Central Men’s Circle discussion group for gay, bi, and questioning men, adds, “I feel that the value of Pride has a deeper impact in rural Minnesota than it has in bigger cities, because we’re less tolerated. If one loses the meaning behind Pride, I’d encourage them to visit one of these rural Prides to understand their value.”
Johnson notes, “Despite progress, some of the GLBT community is still afraid to come out, and perhaps be ‘outed’ at this event. However, the overwhelming view of the East Central Minnesota GLBT community is that the event brings added value to their rural living experience.”
Many attending Twin Citians have ties with Pine City, as Johnson recalls: “Last year, I met a past graduate of Pine City High School who had relocated to the Twin Cities. He expressed he was delighted that gay life was beginning to take hold in Greater Minnesota, where he once felt he could never be open.”
For more information, search for “East Central Minnesota Pride” on Facebook.
Milwaukee PrideFest Communications Director Kate Sherry explains, “When PrideFest first began in 1987, it was much smaller, and low-key—more like a picnic—attracting hundreds of mostly local attendees. Now, we see more than 30,000 people from all over the world come through the festival gates all weekend. And the fact that we are a three-day Pride festival, on permanent festival grounds, is a pretty big accomplishment.”
Sherry points out, “Outside of our amazing headliners? We have the volleyball tournament, as well as an expanded Health and Wellness Area. And those who think our Pump! Dance Pavilion couldn’t get any better than last year are in for a big surprise. PrideFest Milwaukee is definitely one of the top Pride celebrations in the nation, and becoming an LGBT travel destination.
“We have hotel deals that include a weekend pass, and Amtrak is offering a discount to get here. So, take the train, and spend all weekend celebrating with us. The shuttle will take you to and from our sponsor hotel, so you’re all set. Milwaukee is a great town, and PrideFest weekend is always one you will never forget.”
For more information, visit www.pridefest.com.
Capital City Pride
Capital City Pride is now in its third year.
Festival President Justin DeVries relates, “Pride was a one-day event that was held at Simon Estes with 6,000 people. We are currently a two-to three-day event with a four-block radius in Historic East Village. We had 15,000 people last year. There are usually some people from the Twin Cities that come down. We have had a great response from both the GLBT and non-GLBT communities since I have been involved.
“I am the most proud of the fact that we have grown our Pride so much in the last three years. We are finally getting Pride to where it should be in Des Moines. We still can get bigger, but from where we were at four years ago, we have really grown, and people are really talking about it. Our entertainment for this year is The Village People.”
A number of events are lined up, including the Third Annual Pride Volleyball Tournament at Sands (date to be determined)?; the Pride Scavenger Hunt (June 10); the Street Party (June 11); the Pancake Breakfast, Parade, and PrideFest? (June 12); and Gay Day at Adventureland (June 13).
For more information, visit www.capitalcitypride.org.
Regional Pride Events