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June 17, 2011

Columbus Pride marks three decades this weekend

Columbus--In the last 30 years, Ohio has seen seven governors, five U.S. presidents, and an undefeated season for the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, who also won 13 Big Ten championships.

It has also seen 29 Columbus Pride festivals, meaning that this weekend, Columbus Pride turns the big Three-Oh. If it were a wedding anniversary, the traditional present would be pearl, although the modern recognition is diamond. So Stonewall Columbus’ Pride Holiday is, it is safe to say, celebrating its pearl anniversary. Or its diamond anniversary, depending on how traditional you are.

Once again, Columbus Pride in Goodale Park will split the festival into two days, Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18, with entertainment, vendors and information both days at the festival, and the parade on Saturday.

The parade lineup will be on Front Street between Broad and Town, facing north. At noon, the parade steps off, turns right on Broad Street then heads north up High Street to Buttles, then west to Dennison, where the parade lets out into Goodale Park.

Dozens of performers will take the stage at thefestival, some brave enough, and energetic enough, to perform both days.

Singer Gaye Adegbalola and composer-performer Roddy Barnes are among this elite group, and will bring the smoky atmosphere of the blues club out into the sunlight as they take the stage on both Friday and Saturday.

Arizonan Namoli Brennet brings her cross-genre folk music to the Gazebo Stage on Friday and the Shelterhouse Stage on Saturday, displaying her endurance as well.

Chicago’s Katie Todd Band also does double duty this weekend, and she will be more than happy to show the audience why iTunes called them one of the “top buzz bands in the country.” Considering the fact that she played Milwaukee Pride last weekend, the woman’s got some endurance.

Schlepping up from Tulsa, Oklahoma comes Eric Himan, no stranger to Pride stages in Ohio. Like his friend and sometime collaborator Brennet, he will be performing both days of the festival, so give thanks.

Finally, Wayne Smith will be performing as Cher on both days. Doing one day in the Columbus sun as Cher is a stiff penance, but doing two days might qualify as martyrdom.

The festival begins at 3 pm on Friday, and at 10 am on Saturday. However, the list of performers who will be there both days only touches the surface of the pool of talent heading onstage.

In addition to DJ Tony C and the Karaoke Idol Contest on Friday, Steve Reeder will perform, the fourth of five Pride festivals he is doing this month. Growing up in the 1980s in Florida, gay and rock did not mix; it was not until later that Freddy Mercury, Rob Halford and Chuck Panozzo came out, opening the way for Reeder to rock out with pride.

Levi Kreis, who is no stranger to Pridegoers in Ohio, will also be performing on Friday. His song “Nothing At All” was on the show Sons of Anarchy and took the number 1 chart position on Logo for 17 weeks, and he will be there, live, rocking Columbus Pride.

Rounding out the Friday lineup is a real Bitch. Well, the real Bitch, formerly of Bitch and Animal and also of Bitch and the Exciting Conclusion, one of the few people who can bring a violin to a rock concert and knock the audience completely off their feet.

That wraps up Friday’s Pride Festival, and if they left it there, it would be an incredible outing for Columbus Pride. It wouldn’t be an iconic 30th anniversary Columbus Pride, however, without the Columbus Women’s Chorus, the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, Capital Pride Band, the Columbus Stompers, Color Columbus, DJ Sean, the Chicago Spirit Brigade and HitM Ent. Presents Paying Homage.

Wait! Did you think we were done? Oh, no. There is a lot more, like Chely Wright, who made history last year as the first major country music performer to come out of the closet. She will take the stage during Saturday’s festival as well.

Also performing will be Columbus favorites the Fabulous Johnson Brothers, who might as well petition a name change to “The Fabulous Johnson Brothers present Stonewall Columbus’ Pride,” since they are stalwart supports of the event.

Coming all the way from Ireland for Pride season are Zrazy, who will be performing with drum mother Wahru. Again, here are performers who are such stalwart supporters of Pride, they’ll probably wind up as grand marshals of the parade one day.

Rapper Unecc will also be performing at Columbus Pride again, fresh from Boston and Philadelphia and other cities. She’s been traveling, proving that the world recognizes Columbus-bred talent.

Hunter Valentine, an all-girl rock band from Toronto, will also take the stage on Saturday. After the band were released from True North Records, they did not despair--Tommy Boy jumped on them for their LGBT music stable, and now they will be in Columbus.

Springboro, Ohio’s Vanity Theft is also performing on Saturday, wedging the appearance in between shows throughout the Midwest and Northeast. These women a moving fast, so catch them while you can.

Singer-songwriter Diana Chichester from Cleveland will also be performing, as will Chelsea Mae and the sexy, aggressive rock of Illicit Kitty. And who knows what other surprises are in store?

Then, just when you thought it was safe to sleep in after the whirlwind of two days of Columbus Pride’s 30th anniversary, you get slapped with the Pride Brunch at 11 am on Sunday, June 19 at the Columbus Athenaeum, 32 North 4th Street. Tickets are $35, available at the Columbus Pride website.

After your stomach is full and you have honored LGBT seniors at the brunch, head out to Dodge Park in Franklinton, 667 Sullivant Avenue, for the 26th Annual Bat ’n’ Rouge game. Hosted by Nina West and Virginia West and with performances by Flaggots Ohio, Hellin Bedd and more, it’s the perfect capstone for a long weekend of fun and frolic.

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