By Angelina Jahn
The Grand Rapids Pride Center has made the decision to host this year’s Pride Festival virtually, on Saturday, June 19, beginning at 9 a.m.
“I’m sure we are all aware of how hard things have been the last year due to Covid, and we are well aware of how many people in not only our community but the city have health issues that make a pandemic just that much more difficult,” wrote Cat Thornton, Grand Rapids Pride Center Board Director, in an email to The Collegiate. “While in-person locations are now opening, it is still very limited and planning a large in-person festival takes us easily six months! We felt it best, in this situation, to do a virtual pride festival while also partnering with businesses in our community to do smaller events throughout the month. We were nervous about it, of course, and miss our festival! I cannot tell you how overwhelmed we have all been with the way our community has stepped up and reached out to offer help and support us this month, it has been amazing!”
Held free of charge on Facebook Livestream, the festival will be made accessible through the Grand Rapids Pride Festival’s Facebook page. The livestream will feature closed-captions, and will be recorded and uploaded so that those unable to attend live will be able to view the festival at a later time.
The event will showcase performances by Grand Rapids natives, will feature a drag show for viewers to enjoy, and a virtual gallery curated by the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
Several local artists are scheduled to perform, while others have sent in pre-recorded performances for the virtual festival. The event will feature many artists including,
Beauty Beyond Drag, Fruit Punch and Shin Hoo Yong. “I am excited by all the different music we will have,” Thornton wrote. “We look forward to having some pop, cover songs, and all original work as well.”
Festival attendees will have the opportunity to donate to compete in a live game show, as a member of a team or individually, complete with prizes. The proceeds collected from the donations will go toward the Pride Center, and the winners will have the option to donate their winnings as well or receive a gift card to a local small business. If not competing, viewers will still be able to watch along.
Viewers will also be given a tour of the Pride Center, located at 343 Atlas Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506, with updates on the work that’s been done there, the resources that they will be offering as well as the announcement of the center’s opening date.
Editor’s Note: Article was updated on Tuesday, June 29 at 2:00 p.m. to correct the spelling of Cat Thornton’s name.