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Pride Festival to celebrate support for LGBT community

West Michigan Pride and The Network present a weekend-long celebration of diversity and the 25th anniversary of Pride Festival.

Pride Festival's weekend-long celebration

Friday 6/14:
Bar Crawl - begins at Rumors Nightclub at 6 p.m.

Saturday 6/15:
Pride Festival - Calder Plaza, from 1 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Sunday 6/16:
Parade of Pride - begins at Calder Plaza, from 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.
After Glow Party - SpeakEZ Lounge at 7 p.m.

Live entertainment at last year's Pride Festival.

Live entertainment at last year's Pride Festival. /courtesy of West Michigan Pride

Last year's Pride Festival was held at Riverside Park. This year's festival will be held downtown at Calder Plaza.

Last year's Pride Festival was held at Riverside Park. This year's festival will be held downtown at Calder Plaza. /courtesy of West Michigan Pride

Pride Festival will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with the addition of the Grand Rapids Parade of Pride. Pride Festival will be held on Saturday, June 15 at Calder Plaza. The festival celebrates steps being made forward in the gay community, says Amy Tabor-Stuba, President of West Michigan Pride.

To kick off the celebration, West Michigan Pride will be hosting a pub crawl to  Rumors, The Apartment Lounge, Diversions and Pub43 on Friday, June 14. Beginning at 6 p.m. patrons are invited to visit the participating bars and clubs and enjoy specialty drinks in celeberation of  Pride weekend. Patrons who visit all four bars and order the specialty drinks will receive a ticket for a free entry into a raffle for a custom Herman Miller office chair. Tickets must be presented at the Pride information booth at Pride Festival by 5 p.m.

Pride Festival will be held in downtown Grand Rapids. For the past few years, the event has been held at Riverside Park.

“[Calder Plaza is] where it first started out, and to commemorate 25 years, we’re bringing it back,” says Tabor-Stuba. “We started here and we’re still here celebrating.”

This is Tabor-Stuba and her wife Linda's last year organizing the event. They will be stepping down from West Michigan Pride as the organization merges with The Network.

"Pride is a full-time volunteer job, besides the full-time careers we have. So we are ready for a change," says Tabor-Stuba. "We believe we have put Pride in good hands, and hope they can even grow it larger. We will miss it, but we will always help on the sidelines."

This year, Pride is expecting a bigger celebration and more entertainment. The festival starts at 1 p.m. and will have an admission fee of $1. The event is family-friendly and will have a children’s tent for crafts and other activities. A crowd of more than 11,000 is expected.

Vendors will be offering a variety of food and goods. A beer tent will be featuring sponsor Brewery Vivant's Farm House Ale. Nonprofit organizations will have booths offering information for local support and resources. Live entertainment will feature local musicians and bands, including In Harmony, Lady Ace Boogie and Black Cat Bone

Ivy Winters, a Grand Rapids native and season five contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, will be performing at the second drag show of the day at 7 p.m.

With progress being made in LGBT equality, says Blaine Ubelhor, Parade Coordinator, West Michigan Pride and The Network are making history of their own by having the first Parade of Pride.

“There are just so many things that are happening to change the country’s view on giving us our equal rights. We thought since we’re celebrating 25 years, what better time would it be than to do our very first gay pride parade,” says Ubelhor.

The Parade of Pride will start at Calder Plaza at 2 p.m. The parade will head south on Ottawa Avenue, turn east on Lyon Street, north on Ionia Avenue and end on Michigan Street. Roads will be blocked off at noon.

The parade will feature floats from businesses and organizations, as well as a marching band and dancers. Winters will be participating in the parade and will be on the Rumors Night Club float. Anyone interested in participating as an individual walker must register the day of the parade at the staging area at Calder Plaza.

The weekend-long celebration will end with the Afterglow Party, which will be held at the SpeakEZ Lounge after the parade at 7 p.m. Local jazz musician Edye Evans Hyde will perform.

For registration or volunteer information, contact West Michigan Pride via their Facebook page or website.


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