Ogden Pride Festival celebrates 5 years of embracing, encouraging, empowering

Ogden Pride Festival celebrates 5 years of embracing, encouraging, empowering

This week’s Ogden Pride Festival is celebrating five years.

And 50.

This year’s theme for the weekend — “’69-’19: Embrace, Encourage Empower” — celebrates both the fifth anniversary of the Ogden festival as well as the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969.

That latter uprising was a series of violent demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ community, in response to a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The rebellion is considered the birth of the modern fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights.

Harrison Spendlove, president of the board of directors for Ogden Pride, said the local celebration dovetails nicely with the national commemoration.

“It kind of falls perfectly in line with the Stonewall riots anniversary,” he said.

This year’s Ogden Pride Festival — which takes place through Saturday, Aug. 3 — will include a soiree, homecoming dance, fundraiser, rally, drag show, fun run, food, entertainment, activities and more. Last year’s festival drew about 4,700 attendees. Spendlove said this year’s estimates put the crowd at somewhere around 7,000 people.

Spendlove said the annual celebration unites the LGBTQ community.

“It’s all about embracing who you are, empowering individualism and embracing difference,” he said. “At the same time, we’re encouraging people to be proud of themselves and who they are. It’s all about acceptance. We should be building each other up and not tearing one another down.”

Spendlove said the Utah Pride Festival is an important part of the fabric of the Ogden community.

“Especially with what is going on with our politics now,” he said. “It’s scary for some of the youth, so we want to emphasize that — to empower one another.”

The weekend full of events begins with the Ogden Pride Soiree at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, at The Monarch, 455 25th St., Ogden. The evening will feature hors d’oeuvres, a wine bar, silent auction, Advocate in the Community Award, and a keynote speech by transgender advocate Sue Robbins.

Cost for the soiree is $50 per person, or $400 for a table, available through www.ogdenpride.org. The event is a fundraiser to support the work of the Ogden Pride organization, including Youth OUTreach and its new STARS in Action program.

Following the soiree, the Ogden Pride Festival Homecoming Dance will be held from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Monarch. Admission is $5 for ages 19 and older, free for 18 and younger and those with a soiree ticket.

On Friday, Aug. 2, the Ogden Pride Rally will be held by the pond at Weber State University, 3848 Harrison Blvd., Ogden. The event, which will remember the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, begins at 5:30 p.m. Organizers say the rally will follow an open-mic forum, and participants are reminded it’s a family-friendly event where all are welcome to peacefully participate.

At 7:30 p.m. Friday, the third annual Youth Drag Show, hosted by the Imperial Rainbow Court of Northern Utah, will be held in the WSU Shepherd Union Building on campus. The event is free and open to all.

On Saturday, Aug. 3, the Ogden Pride 5K Fun Run will be held. Check-in begins at 7 a.m., with the race following at 7:30 a.m., at Big Dee Sports Park, 1375 Park Blvd., Ogden. Day-of-race registration is $35.

The weekend concludes with the Ogden Pride Festival, from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, at the Ogden Amphitheater and on nearby Historic 25th Street. The free community event features food, entertainment and activities.

“Our festival is very much a grassroots, community-type event — we keep it as local as we can,” Spendlove said. “And we have a strict rule: It’s a family-friendly event, and all of our vendors have to abide by that.”

Spendlove said the festival will include two entertainment stages, a liquor garden, and a kids zone.

Also as part of the week’s activities, Spendlove said they’ll be hosting Project Rainbow in Ogden again this year. On Saturday, 300 rainbow flags — the symbol of the LBGTQ movement — will be placed around the city.

Spendlove said it’s is a pivotal point for Ogden Pride. The organization is in the process of finding a space for its planned Pride Center, which it hopes to open by the end of the year. The center will offer the group a physical space for LGBTQ programs, and Spendlove hopes the community will be a part of this evolution.

“We need the community involved,” he said. “As an organization, we want to and need to provide services or space for other organizations to exist, and we need people who are not afraid to come out and attend events, and find the help or support they need.

“We want to be that for the community, and we need the community to be there to support it.”

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