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May 11, 2007
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Volume 35
Issue 19
 
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Two Pride festivals to be held Pride weekend - QueerFest to return to Volunteer Park, PrideFest to be held at Seattle Center
Two Pride festivals to be held Pride weekend - QueerFest to return to Volunteer Park, PrideFest to be held at Seattle Center
by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

Even with Seattle Out and Proud (SOAP) out of the festival business this year, there appears to be no shortage of festival options for the region's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.

The Seattle LGBT Community Center will host QueerFest at Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill on Saturday, June 23, and, newcomer, One Degree Events, will hold it's PrideFest at the Seattle Center on Sunday, June 24. Both events will run from noon to 6 p.m.

"There's clearly something for everyone on Pride weekend this year," said Shannon Thomas, executive director of the Seattle LGBT Community Center. "I think the march, festival, parade, and parties in the evenings cap off a fun and festive weekend."

Egan Orion, owner and executive producer of One Degree Events, said he plans to work collaboratively with the Seattle LGBT Community Center and SOAP. "We definitely want everything to be a coordinated effort for Pride weekend, whenever possible," he said. "There is enough to go around for everyone and for everyone's events to be successful. I intend to work to make that happen."

For their part, SOAP remains focused on their parade. "We are out of the festival business this year," said Troy Campbell, a board member and media spokesman for SOAP. "We are focusing on the parade. That is not something we are going to partner on."

The Seattle Gay News spoke with the organizers of both festivals this week about their respective events.

SATURDAY, JUNE 23
The Seattle LGBT Community Center's QueerFest on Saturday, June 23, in Volunteer Park has returned for the second consecutive year. Organizers say the size and scope of the event has been expanded and will include two stages of music and entertainment.

The line-up will include popular acts, as well as up-and-coming artists. The Erika Wright Band, Animal Prufrock, Camille Bloom, Holly O'Reilly, and Sister Hyde will be among the musical entertainment. Local favorites, such as the Rainbow City Band, Bad Actor Productions, and the Queen Bees will perform. Spoken word artists from the Bent Writing Institute will also contribute their works.

Girl4GIRL will bring the Hip Hop female Duo "God-des & She" from New York City to perform at QueerFest in the afternoon and at Girl4GIRL's Pride event in the evening.

The number of food vendors and booths from businesses and organizations is expected to increase this year. The Cal Anderson Art Walk, a showcase of art from local LGBT artists co-sponsored by 4Culture, will be a new addition.

The popular free outdoor movie screening, presented by Three Dollar Bill Cinema, will return. The movie Hairspray! will be shown at dusk.

The day will begin with the Seattle LGBT Community Center's Pride March at 11 a.m., proceeding north from Broadway and Pine to E. Prospect and into Volunteer Park. Organizers say they welcome marchers for equality, pageantry, and, even, human-powered-decorated-platforms - with or without wheels. Pride March registration forms, vender and sponsorship applications are available at the Seattle LGBT Community Center's website, www.seattlelgbt.org. Artists interested in having a booth at QueerFest, should e-mail LGBTart@seattlelgbt.org.

"Since we just recently stepped up to produce this year's Pride Festival, expanding QueerFest, we ask that the community get involved and donate to help underwrite the costs," said Thomas. "A community festival needs community support. Any proceeds will directly support our services and programs, which serve our LGBT community in return." SUNDAY, JUNE 24
Egan Orion announced this week that his company will be organizing a six-hour PrideFest to be held at the Seattle Center following the downtown Pride Parade along Fourth Avenue.

"As the drama unfolded in the newspapers and SOAP went back and forth about whether or not they could do something or just the parade portion of it; I made some phone calls and started making a plan. That all came to fruition this week when I signed the contracts," said Orion. "I had put a hold on it a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to make sure that I had signed the contract and paid everything I was supposed to pay up front to them and get it finalized before I released it to the community."

Two weeks ago, Seattle Out and Proud, organizers of the 2006 Seattle Pride Parade and Festival said it could not afford to host a festival at the Seattle Center after they had accumulated more than $140,000 in debts. After announcing their intent to declare bankruptcy and cancel its events, the group reversed course and decided to move ahead with the more profitable downtown parade instead.

Orion said he plans to hold a much more scaled down event than the two-day festival at the Seattle Center last year. His company has rented the Fisher Pavilion, which will host an indoor and outdoor beer garden and tables from businesses and nonprofits, and the surrounding 30,000 square foot lawn, where a main stage and a few booths will be placed. Los Angeles DJ Bryan Pfeifer is the only entertainment announced by press time.

"We could not secure the entire space, probably because of all the things that happened with SOAP. However, we are going to be able to execute a great festival never the less," he said. "Because that is the prime area that people use anyway, I figured we could do everything that they did last year. We'll do it on a tighter budget and make it profitable; get some money in the bank so we can do it again year-after-year -- so there is not all this upheaval."

According to David Heurtel, deputy director of Seattle Center, One Degree Events has prepaid the rental fee and, as is standard for first time event producers, the estimated expenses incurred by the Seattle Center as a result of the event. The total cost of using the Fisher Pavilion and surrounding lawn alone is expected to be about $25,000, he added.

Orion said he has the expertise to ensure PrideFest, which is free to the public, will be a financial and logistical success. "We are definitely interested in giving money back to the community and keeping the festival free," he said. "There is no reason why this event can't be profitable. I am also giving 25 percent of the net proceeds from this event to community nonprofits."

Orion has the backing of a "half-dozen" individuals who put forward the money to produce PrideFest in the form of short-term personal loans. He also expects corporate sponsors and booth fees to help pay back the loans and offset the potential cost of performers and event speakers.

Orion's company is already producing three parties on Pride weekend: one on Capitol Hill on Friday; one at the Seattle Center on Saturday and another one near the Seattle Center on Sunday.

Troy Campbell said SOAP was pleased to hear of Orion's plans and will support the event as they would any other Pride event being held throughout the city. "I think there is definitely a void being filled with there not being a festival put on by us this year," he said. "It sort of fills that empty hole after the parade. So, I think it is a good deal that there is something that people can go to at the [Seattle] Center after the parade."

On Wednesday, a special events committee of the City of Seattle approved SOAP's permit to proceed with its parade down Fourth Avenue, beginning at 11 a.m. on June 24. PrideFest is scheduled to begin at noon and run until 6 p.m. that same day.

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