The annual Mid-Columbia Pride Festival happens July 20-22 with a full day of festivities for the whole family at various locations.
The Pride Festival is meant to bring greater awareness of the diversity issue that includes the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, said Mark Lee, an organizer of the event and executive director of the Vista Youth Center in Kennewick.
"In rural America, LGBT folks tend to be more isolated and more closeted," Lee said. "Pride is a way to remind the community of the diversity that exits in their town and give isolated folks a hint that there are others among them."
But the Pride Festival is not just for lesbians and gays, Lee added.
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"It has been organized by a wide cross-section of folks," he said. "This year, youth and adults, lesbians and gays have all given input, and we have considered the input of the greater straight community to be more welcoming to all, making this a more family-friendly event."
There will be a kickoff Pride Party for the 21 and older crowd, starring the Diva Latinas, starting at 9 p.m. July 20 at Ray's Golden Lion nightclub in the Uptown Shopping Center off George Washington Way. Music will be provided by DJ Larry G. Cover is $5.
On July 21, a Pride March parade starts at 9:30 a.m., leaving from the parking lot at the Federal Building off Jadwin Avenue, heading west on Mansfield Avenue, south on Northgate Drive, east on Knight and ending at John Dam Plaza.
The festival at John Dam Plaza will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and features all sorts of music, games and food and informational booths. Scheduled to perform at the plaza are Magnificent Glue at 11 a.m., Tom Gnoza at noon, Kate Turner at 1 p.m., Liquor Cabinet at 2 p.m. and Brittney Austin at 3 p.m.
Guest speakers throughout the afternoon include author Robert V. Taylor. There also will be a barbecue starting at 6 p.m. at the West Richland Golf Course.
July 22 festivities include a brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Uptown Deli in Richland. Cost is $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Advance tickets are available at the deli.
Another important role the Pride Festival provides to the Tri-Cities is the opportunity to collect signatures for Referendum 74, Lee said.
"This year, with Referendum 74 being a potential divisive issue, I am amazed at the participation and support by the city of Richland and Richland businesses," he said.
This is the sixth Pride Festival, and the numbers who attend keep growing each year, Lee added. He expects more than 2,000 to attend this year's event.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; email@example.com