Better late than never is a motto many beloved Athens festivals have adopted this year, and after canceling several events including the traditional street festival, Athens PRIDE has likewise resurrected its annual celebrations in a new fashion. PrideFest will be held at Terrapin Brewing Co. on Saturday, Nov. 13 from 12–8 p.m. This comes near the end of a full week of celebrations currently underway.
The volunteer-based Athens PRIDE board voted to cancel the street festival to be held on the same date after putting in most of the work required to organize it. Jarrett Martin, president of Athens PRIDE, says that this decision was made based on the board’s inability to block off the street in compliance with Athens-Clarke County and monitor entry into the festival area, in addition to hearing word that ACC was not likely going to grant the necessary permit—the same fate that befell AthFest. (However, COVID levels have fallen in recent weeks to the point that the permit would have been approved.) The smaller events throughout the week were guaranteed because it is manageable to enforce COVID protocols for entry, such as requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
When Martin reached out to one of Athens PRIDE’s largest sponsors, Terrapin Brewing Co., to explain the festival cancelation, Terrapin offered to host a similar event at the brewery. Moving locations allowed for COVID entry protocols and the creation of a safer environment. “Our community is good about being good citizens and following these guidelines that are put out by the CDC,” says Martin. So quick planning began for PrideFest, which includes many of the traditional street festival’s elements and activities: nearly 50 local vendors, artists, a drag show, live music, performances by Canopy Studio and more. Performances kick off at 4 p.m. with Taylor Alxndr, Linqua Franqa, Convict Julie and more, followed by a drag show at 6:30 p.m. curated by Alex Suarez and Femme Haus. Later that night at the 40 Watt Club, Femme Haus is hosting a drag show featuring Kandy Muse of “uPaul’s Drag Race” at 9 p.m. sponsored by Athens PRIDE.
Although there are many familiar faces on the lineup, this will be Convict Julie’s first time performing at a PRIDE event. “Performing at PrideFest is meaningful to me, because it allows me to show up with and for the LGBTQ+ community in solidarity with representation and visibility,” says Camilla Sims, who performs as Convict Julie. “I’m glad there is still something happening for the LGBTQ+ community, because we need that, and we need that as safely as possible.” Another key event with the goal of creating safe spaces is the Queer Prom, started several years ago by Martin for those who might not have been able to take their ideal date to their high school prom or even go at all due to being queer. “It’s normally not during the week of PRIDE, it’s normally during high school prom season,” says Martin. “I just thought it was really important for that to happen, even if it’s after the fact.”
If you’ve missed the Athens PRIDE events so far this week, there are a variety of events still happening around town through Sunday. For more information, visit athenspride.org.
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