The subject of marriage equality was thrust into the limelight recently with both the president and vice president voicing support of same-sex marriage. So it’s fitting that the theme for the 2012 PrideFest is “Changing Minds Together.”
“It helps that we have the support of the two highest positions in our country,” said Justin DeVries, president of the Capital City Pride board. “I think with more people like them standing up for marriage equality, there’s a greater chance of all us being treated equally. It also helps some of the people that are struggling with coming out and being who they are.”
The 2012 PrideFest will take place Friday through Sunday in the East Village. It’s a weekend to bring together members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, as well as allies .
“It’s just a nice weekend that everybody in the community shows togetherness,” DeVries said. “We all come from all walks and parts of life, and there are people you don’t see on a regular basis.” DeVries has served as president of the Capital City Pride board for five years, four as president. During this time, he’s seen the event grow exponentially, in part due to a larger budget. That larger budget has been generated due to the addition of corporate sponsors, including local banks, retailers and insurance companies. Under DeVries’ watch, the event also has expanded in length and attendance.
“The event used to average 6,000 people,” DeVries said. “It was a one-day event that was held at Simon Estes Amphitheater. Last year we had 20,000 people attend. We’ve basically quadrupled our numbers by bringing in better entertainment than we’ve had years previous.”
Among the bigger names in entertainment this year is “The Voice” contestant Beverly McClellan, who sang and performed her way to the final four as a part of Christina Aguilera’s team of mentees. This will be McClellan’s first Iowa performance, and DeVries is hoping this will draw people to push attendance to an all-time high. The conclusion of PrideFest this year will be bittersweet for DeVries, who is resigning as president of the Capital City Pride board at the end of the year. However, he feels satisfaction in knowing he played a part in expanding the footprint of the annual event.
“I’m excited to leave with a great feeling that I brought our pride celebration to the place where it is today,” DeVries said. “It’s not a small rinky-dink one-day event anymore; we can compare ourselves to the others in the Midwest. We’re not going to be as big as Chicago or Minneapolis, but we’re standing our ground.”
TACKLE THIS LIST OF CAN'T-MISS EVENTS
1. Take on the scavenger hunt
Grab a partner, pull out your smartphone and peruse for clues in the East Village at 6 p.m. Friday. Past clues have led participants on a whirlwind trip to area businesses or landmarks, where the team must take a photo of the correct answer. The first team to finish and have all the right answers wins. The event starts at The Blazing Saddle, 416 E. Fifth St.
2. See ‘Voice’ contestant Beverly McClellen
Openly gay blues-rock singer Beverly McClellen finished in the top four of the first season of “The Voice,” a reality singing competition featuring spinning chairs and celebrity coaches. Although known for her exuberant stage presence, McClellan also plays piano, guitar, trumpet, French horn, mandolin, ukulele, bass guitar, djembe, and a wide variety of drums and percussion.
3. Show pride at Adventureland
Don a yellow shirt and enjoy discounted prices for rides, water slides and other amusement park attractions on Monday as the Capital City Pride board of directors celebrates another successful PrideFest weekend. Discounted tickets and yellow PrideFest shirts are available in advance by visiting the Capital City Pride booth at the festival or emailing email@example.com.
4. Attend the parade
The annual PrideFest parade starts at the Capitol at 1 p.m. Sunday, heads down Grand Avenue to East Fifth Street, jumps to Locust Street and ends at City Hall. Organizers are expecting at least 100 entries in the parade from various companies, churches and local organizations.
5. Cheer for your favorite Pride Idol
Competitors have been duking it out over the past few months for a spot in the finals of the annual Pride Idol contest. The finalists will compete Saturday night during the Street Party.
6. Nosh on pancakes
Cure the Street Party-induced hangover with the annual pancake breakfast at 8:30 a.m Sunday.
7. Peruse vendor booths
Experience a wide variety of vendors available during the Saturday street party from 5 p.m. to midnight and again on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Past vendors have included Tastefully Simple, sellers of Pride gear, insurance companies and cellphone providers.
8. Secure an autograph from Zach Wahls
More than 18 million people have viewed a YouTube video of Wahls, a product of two moms, as he addressed Iowa lawmakers urging them to vote against a resolution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. He’s also been on CNN, MSNBC, “Good Morning America” and the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Now an author, Wahls will speak at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. He’ll also autograph copies of his book, “My Two Moms.”
When: Friday through Monday
Find it: East Village
Cost: $5 presale bracelets are available at Liberty Gifts, Blazing Saddle and Buddy’s Corral; $10 at the gate
Info: www.capitalcity pride.org
Friday: Pride Scavenger Hunt at 6 p.m. Starts at the Blazing Saddle.
Saturday: PrideFest Street Party starts at 5 p.m. Includes a vendor booths, an opening ceremony, Pride Idol finals and performances by singers Mark Ortega and “Voice” finalist Beverly McClellan.
Sunday: Pancake breakfast at 8:30 a.m.; gates and vendor booths open at 9 a.m.; parade starts at 1 p.m.; Pride Stage opens at 2:30 p.m., with appearances from the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus, Zach Wahls, Mr. and Miss Pride, Mr. and Miss Teen Pride, and more.
Monday: Pride Day at Adventureland; come and go as you please.