Bisbee Winter Pridefest

By Megan Wadding, Jan. 29, 2015.

The first-ever Bisbee Winter Pridefest invites the LGBT community to celebrate diversity as well as gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses Jan. 30 through Feb. 1 in Bisbee, Ariz.

According to Doug Schilling, the event’s creator and a camp host at David’s Oasis camping resort, he came up with the idea of having a winter pride after realizing that celebrating gay pride in the summertime was just not enough.

Schilling’s vision, combined with the support of the surrounding community, has evolved into the first three-day celebration the mile-high city has ever played host beyond the annual Bisbee Pride each June.

“We need a winter break to remember who we are and to show our pride,” Schilling said. “We need to come together in our fight to be accepted. We are one giant party here and we aren’t giving up.”

Schilling said he expects about 200 people to descend upon Bisbee for the weekend, with the majority traveling from within Arizona.

The host site, David’s Oasis, is a desert campground with two cabins, 28 spaces for RVs and room for tents. According to Schilling, many of the attendees will stay on site, but he expects an equal number to book area hotels.

Aside from accommodations, the only other cost associated with the festival is a one-time admission of $20, which, Schilling said, covers overhead and gets you food, raffle tickets and prizes.

The weekend officially kicks off Friday with a Welcome Party at David’s Oasis, hosted by a local Bisbee microbrewery, the Beast Brewing Company. Later that night, the Bisbee Grand Hotel Bar will host a dance, with entertainment provided by a live band and DJ Cruz the Music Man.

Saturday will see three events taking place consecutively, beginning with the Winter Pride Talent Show and Brunch at the Whyld Ass Coffee Shop and Eatery.  According to Schilling, local drag kings and queens will be serving a delicious meal to attendees as they perform and compete in a show.

Following brunch, everyone is encouraged to participate in the Auto Scavenger Hunt, which Schilling said is a great way to explore the Bisbee gay community and to bring awareness and business to gay-owned and gay-friendly area businesses.

“We want to keep the gay businesses open and try to give back and support each other,” he said, adding that participants can pick up prizes at each stop during the scavenger hunt and additional prizes after the event concludes.

Then the first round of the pool tournament will begin, with the tournaments taking place at the Grand Hotel, The Stock Exchange and David’s Oasis. There is an entry fee of $5.

“Each location will send their top two winners to David’s Oasis for the [playoff tournament] on Sunday and we’ll have cash prizes,” said Schilling. “That’s a separate entry free, but we’re giving all the money back for the prize.”

After the pool tournament winners are announced Sunday afternoon, Schilling said attendees will be encouraged to head out to the street directly in front of David’s Oasis where, in lieu of a parade, an underwear race, sponsored by Beast Brewery, will take place.

The Underwear Race will be divided into two age groups, the under 64 and the 65 and older. Prizes for the Race will be awarded in two categories: Best Underwear Get-Up and Best Race Time.

The weekend will come to an end with the closing ceremony and the drawing for the 50/50 raffle. Half of the proceeds from the raffle will go to the Bisbee Homeless Shelter as a way to give back to the community.

“Bisbee is great,” Schilling said. “There are a lot of different events going on over [the weekend]. It’s going to be fun.”

Bisbee Winter Pridefest

Jan. 30-Feb. 1

David’s Oasis Camping Resort (and other locations)

5311 W. Double Adobe Road, McNeal, Ariz.

Tickets: $20

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