Nashville Pride '09 will be held at Riverfront Park

Vendors at Nashville's upcoming June 20 Pride Festival will be renting riverside booth space.

Members of the Nashville Pride Board received approval from city officials Tuesday to hold the annual festival at Riverfront Park. The festival was first held on the riverfront in 1995.

"It never hurts to change things up and reinvent yourself," said Pride President Pam Wheeler.

An estimated 13,000 people attended last year's event at Centennial Park when it was held on a Sunday for the first time.

Wheeler said the main event will be moved back to Saturday and will be surrounded by 21 days of events to stretch out the festival. This way, there's no choosing between several events a night.

The festival is set to be the biggest ever held at Riverfront park and will shut down a portion of 1st Ave. to accommodate an expected minimum of 100 vendors. Vendor applications will be available at later this month.

Entertainers will perform on a stage set up on the barge and a Kid Zone will be stationed within the circle of flags next to the train station.

The location also allows for beer and liquor to be consumed in appropriate areas of the park, larger than those provided in Centennial Park.

Festival Director Jack Davis said the group is still exploring entertainment options, from country and rock to dance a pop.

"We're trying to bring all of the music our city offers to Pride," Davis said. 

Fundraising is still a priority for board members as the event draws near.

This year's Pride board inherited a $13,927 debt from last year's festival. Of that, $5,250 was money which the group hoped to collect - but that still left them more than $5,000 in the red. Compounding their financial woes, Nashville Pride was sued in late February by Crown Tent & Awning for a remaining debt of $7,500.

Wheeler said the board was surprised to find they were being sued because they had been making payments to Crown, although they had not entered into a structured payment plan before suit was filed. The group is now working out a formal payment arrangement with the company and will have a court date scheduled for later this month.

"If we had to write a check today, we'd be in trouble," Wheeler said. "But we have five fundraisers in March, two more in April and Martinis and Jazz in May, so it's all going to be okay."

The board has already hosted several fundraisers, including speed dating nights for men and women held at Tribe, and has many more planned.

People interested in hosting an event during 21-day festival have three options: hold, advertise create own event and Pride will include it in list on its Web site with the intent of Pride getting a percentage of proceeds; partner with Pride - Pride will help advertise and promote the event and receive a small portion of proceeds; or host an event to benefit Pride with the board's help - all proceeds go to help fund the festival.

Wheeler said the board also hopes to start a membership club for people who have helped coordinate past Pride events. A sort of alumni association, the group would be offered a special rate to join Nashville Pride to recognize and thank them for their past work.

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