Augusta Pride festivalgoers have something extra to look forward to this year.
The fourth annual festival will feature two days of public events, kicking off with Beats on Broad: Augusta’s Largest Outdoor Dance Party on Friday, June 21, at Augusta Common from 6 to 11 p.m. The new event will feature DJ KAOS from Club One in Savannah, Ga.
“We thought it was time to grow the event,” said Chris Bannochie, the public relations director for Augusta Pride Inc. “It’s been very successful, and we wanted to reach out to a different audience that may not be available on Saturday but could come on Friday. We will have the dance party as an annual event if it goes well this year.”
Admission for the dance party is $5 for ages 13 and up. Children under 13 will be admitted free with a parent.
On Saturday, June 22, the Augusta Pride Parade starts at 10 a.m. on Broad Street, followed by the Augusta Pride Festival at 11 a.m. The festival will include speakers and vendors.
Headline acts include Chad Michaels, a RuPaul’s Drag Race winner and Cher impersonator; Frenchie Davis, of The Voice; and Thea Austin, of Snap!. They will perform from 1 to 4 p.m., followed by local entertainers from 4 to 6 p.m.
The festival is dedicated to celebrating and bringing attention to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues and interests. It attracts participants from across the Southeast, mostly Atlanta, Columbia and Charlotte, N.C., and as far away as Washington, D.C., and New York, according to Augusta Pride Inc.’s survey results, Bannochie said. The crowd, which includes people of all ages, has grown each year, and he said he expects a larger turnout this year.
The Augusta Pride festival was created to be held in late June to commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969, Bannochie said.
The Stonewall riots are widely considered the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States. Members of the gay community held demonstrations against a June 28, 1969, police raid at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.
Many major cities, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, celebrate their pride festivals during the last weekend in June, which is Stonewall weekend, he said.
“We’ve done a big push in regards to Atlanta advertising this year, so we hope to see more visitors from Atlanta,” Bannochie said.