Taking more pride in PrideFest



In December, Charlie Irwin, head of Colorado Springs Pride, announced that the organization was coming completely out of the closet.

Pride was forming a political nonprofit; it was moving into a more visible location; and it was going to be bigger and louder than ever.

Apparently, Irwin wanted the 23rd annual PrideFest to reflect that loud-and-proud spirit, even more than it has in the past. While the city has never officially sponsored the festival and parade (much to the disappointment of supporters), it continues to be a popular annual event.

This summer, PrideFest is moving from tiny Acacia Park to the very large America the Beautiful Park. It's expected to be the largest celebration of its kind in Colorado Springs' history, and will include an extended parade route, a 5K run, a family day, and live entertainment.

Read on:

In a decision that is tied heavily to the recently refocused direction of the organization, the board of directors of the Colorado Springs Pride Center announced the dates and new location of the annual PrideFest. On the weekend of July 20-21, Colorado Springs' America the Beautiful Park will be the site of the event. In response to its increasing popularity throughout the years, the 23rd annual PrideFest will be the biggest one yet-the largest festival in downtown Colorado Springs, as well as the largest PrideFest ever in Southern Colorado. Last year, over 25,000 people attended.

According to Executive Director Charles Irwin, the move to a different site for PrideFest is just one way that people will begin to know the new face of Colorado Springs Pride. "We have spent the past year working with our board and our partners to reposition, re-brand and redirect Colorado Springs Pride," he says. "We are The Voice for the LGBT community in the Pikes Peak region. This means we will be intently focusing on our mission to connect, support and empower LGBT individuals while creating community. And PrideFest is certainly one way we create community."

This year's PrideFest theme, "The Summer of Love," is in recognition of recent legislation that allows civil unions and the current deliberation of the Defense of Marriage Act at the Supreme Court level. However, the festival is rooted in a tradition that goes back over 40 years and commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969, an event that catalyzed the gay community to become more cohesive and active on its own behalf.

The 23rd Colorado Springs PrideFest will feature a Family Day on Saturday, July 20. Included in the festivities will be bounce houses, face painters and family-focused entertainment. Sunday, July 21 will showcase a new Big Gay 5K run, a longer parade through downtown ending near the park, a beer garden, a VIP area and the Shoutocracy.com Main Stage featuring emcee Mustang Monroe with the best in entertainment, including rising star Porsha DeMarco, who will open for PrideFest headliner Matthew Hosey and His Fuegos, discovered by Bruno Mars. Close to 200 food, beverage, merchandise and nonprofit vendors will be at the event.

For more information about sponsorship and vending opportunities, contact Charles Irwin at 719-471-4429.

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