After a decade, Las Vegas PRIDE Festival moves back to Sunset Park

You don’t have to be Greek to enjoy the Greek Food Festival or Italian to enjoy the San Gennaro Feast. So, organizers of the Las Vegas PRIDE festival are trying to get the word out that their festival is not just for the LGBT community, but for everyone.

“We’re trying to bring something for everyone,” said James Healey, president of Southern Nevada Association of Pride, commonly called Las Vegas PRIDE. “Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, a pets enthusiast, or a family that wants to come out and see great entertainment, there’s something you’ll like here. We’ll have things for people who want a food festival, for people who want to dance. We want to put this festival on the map so that people in Las Vegas — no matter who you are — it becomes one of the festivals you attend each year.”

For it’s 33rd annual festival, PRIDE has greatly expanded its footprint and offerings. It did that by moving it back to Sunset Park, 2601 E. Sunset Road, where it took place for several years during its early days, but where it hasn’t been for about 10 years. More than 100 exhibitors are planned for an expected 10,000 visitors. The event is also expanding to two days.

“It’s an exciting, pivotal point for PRIDE,” Healey said. “We’ve seen declining attendance, so we went to the community, and we asked why people don’t want to come to PRIDE — what’s holding people back?”

The answer turned out to be several things, but primarily the heat. For the past few years, it has been nearly 100 degrees on the day of the festival, so the organizers shifted to October. People also said that the event was too small, and there were not enough activities and things to do. The move to the park brought it to a place with more grass, shade and space.

“We’re bringing back PRIDE Pets,” Healey said. “We did it as an event on its own five years ago, and it was very well-received, so we added it to PRIDE, with pet-friendly vendors, the SPCA and rescue organizations.”

The pet-friendly activities also include a large lure track, a sort of obstacle course for dogs who are encouraged to chase a fox tail on a track, a pet walk around the lake and a pet costume contest.

“We’ve also added a kids’ area,” Healey said. “With LGBT families on the rise now that adoption and marriage are legal, we have a ton of LGBT parents along with straight allied parents. We’ve got activities and games in a contained area where parents can feel safe.”

The festival is set to include two outdoor stages. The additional stage doubles the entertainment possibilities, and many Strip performers are set to attend.

“We’re focusing on making Las Vegas PRIDE legendary and a destination Pride event for people around the country,” Healey said. “It’s a chance to see so many different artists from the Strip all in one spot.”

The festival is set to include a seniors’ area, a dry area for members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, a church service by the Metropolitan Community Church on Sunday, a softball tournament with the Gay Softball League and about a dozen food trucks and other food vendors.

“For the past four or five years, we’ve had only four or five food vendors,” Healey said. “We’re making it kind of a mini food festival this year.”

One advantage to the move is the great increase in space.. The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, known as The Center, has been given a large area to program activities.

“Normally, we have one or two booths for The Center, but this year, we’re actually having our own little area,” said Cory Burgess, director of marketing for The Center, 401 S. Maryland Parkway. “We’re calling it our village, and our associate board has been behind the planning process of how to utilize the additional space that was given to us this year.”

The Center plans to have a booth for each of its major programs, including Act III, its senior program, QVolution youth programs, Identi-T* Transgender programs and its HIV services department.

“Some of the booths may be giving out information or playing a game,” Burgess said. “We’re hoping to have performances on the stage by some of our youth programs, and Social CirKish is set to do some circus-style performances.”

The PRIDE Night Parade, set for 8 p.m. Oct. 21, will still be held downtown, heading north on Fourth Street starting at West Charleston Boulevard and ending at Ogden Avenue. A parade pre-show is scheduled at 7 p.m. at the Main Stage on Bridger Avenue and Fourth Street, while a post-parade event is scheduled at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, 200 S. Third St.

Visit dlvec.com or call 702-388-2100.

The PRIDE festival is scheduled from noon to 10 p.m. Oct. 22 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct 23 at Sunset Park. Tickets are $10 per day or $15 for a two-day pass for adults 18 or older and $5 per day for youths 8 to 17. Children younger than 7 are admitted free. Visit lasvegaspride.org or call 866-930-3336.

To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email ataylor@viewnews.com or call 702-380-4532.

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