Watch for Changes at the Pride Festival

We�re barely a month away from the June 3-5 Pride weekend and the event-filled days leading up to it Camp will cover the festival in much more detail in the PrideGuide coming out at the end of May and distributed at the Pride festival weekend.

We thought we�d cover what�s new so you�ll all be in the know.

The big news is that the entire three-day festival will be at the Power & Light District this year. Kansas City will join the U.S. cities that have long abandoned park settings for festivals because of the cost. The Pride events will take place in the area known as the Living Room in the Power & Light courtyard, and two streets will be blocked off around the Power & Light area for exhibitor booths, food vendors and more.

Rick Bumgardner, president of Pride, said there were several reasons for the move, but clearly the financial benefits could not be ignored. Show Me Pride has applied for a 501(c) 3 status, which would help in securing grants. But right now, as in previous years, the group is responsible for raising the more than $250,000 necessary to stage the Pride festival through their own efforts, such as sponsorships, events and exhibitor booths. Pride has traditionally run on a tight budget in Kansas City, and many previous Pride organizations have failed to break even after the festival is over.

Bumgardner estimates that the group will save $85,000 by holding the event at the Power & Light facility rather than the former park settings.

�I don�t have to pay $10,000 for a park,� he said. �I don�t have to pay $26,000 for stage, sound and lights. I don�t have to pay $6,000 for fencing. Security last year was $20,000. I don�t have to pay security. They do security.�

Another advantage of using The Living Room area of the P&L is the protection from rain with the enclosed rooftop canopy. Bumgardner said that they couldn�t buy enough rain insurance to protect an event from a rain-out and that this is a huge advantage over the parks.

Bumgardner said the trend for Pride festivals to become street festivals has long been developing. He mentioned examples such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, Omaha, and Wichita.

�St Louis, next year, will be a street festival instead of a park festival. They will be downtown in Washington Square. Downtown. We�re on the cutting edge,� he said.

With the cost savings, however, Bumgardner also acknowledged some losses. For example, some sponsorships were lost because certain contracts are already in place in the Power & Light District.

Because of those contracts, he said, �I lost $10,000 in liquor sponsorships. I lost $8,000 in a phone sponsorship. Miller Lite has the contract in the Power & Light District, so they are still our sponsor. But our other two sponsors, Absolut and Malibu, could not sponsor us this year, so we gave it up.�

On the positive side, though, he said, �I don�t have to get a liquor license. I don�t have to borrow some bar owner�s liquor license.�

The event will be free during the day, and $10 admission will be charged only for the evening entertainment from 6 to 11 Friday night and 7 to 11 Sunday night. The Power & Light security will check all backpacks and I.D.s at the admission gates, just as security hired by Pride has done in the past. And as in past years, bottled water and other beverages are not allowed to be brought in.

As with any event, there are critics. Last year, a small protest was organized when Pride decided to hold the Friday night concert with LaRoux in the Power & Light Living Room. The reason cited was, again, cost savings and superior sound and stage. The event was packed, but dissenters protested outside.

This year a group on Facebook called �Down with Pride at the Power and Light� is unhappy with the venue and the absence of a city park. The comments on the Facebook page range from feelings of too much commercialism to allegations of discrimination. One of the criticisms of last year�s Pride festival at Richard Berkley Riverfront Park was that there were too many liquor sponsorship banners around the venue, which could be a moot point this year, because the festival had to give up two liquor sponsorships.

Bumgardner said that there are no age restrictions at the P&L until 11 p.m., when it has to turn into an entertainment district.

Also, he said, �There�s no dress code at the Power & Light until 9 p.m. And the dress code after 9 p.m. says you can�t have steel-toed shoes and no man or woman can be in what is obviously an undergarment. So men can�t wear tank tops and women can�t wear tank tops unless the women�s tank tops have been bedazzled. I mean if they�re jeweled and obviously have been sold as an outer garment then they can be worn that way. Men, it doesn�t matter, you�re not going to be in it. That�s the one area that even in my opinion is debatable whether it�s right or wrong.�

Bumgardner said it would not be necessary for participants to go into Power & Light restaurants for food and drink.

�It will be in the courtyard, like last year. Like the Big 12, like any other event that is held down there. Friday night, Saturday daytime within the Living Room and Sunday, it�s all from P&L vendors. Saturday afternoon during the street festival, there will be a beer truck on the street that will be selling Miller Lite beer. That�s not P&L, that�s us.�

Bumgardner also said that some of the P&L restaurants will have their own food booths outside at the street festival.

There will be more parking in the surrounding garages than was available at the park settings, but the parking fees are still being discussed. Meter street parking is free after 6 p.m.

The entertainment lineup includes Wynter Gordon and the Beautiful Bodies band on Friday night. Cyon Flare will also be performing that night with DJ Jerry Griffith. Sunday night local out performer Kristie Stremel will open for the openly lesbian country singer Chely Wright. At this point they are still talking to a few other entertainers and possibly a comedian.

There will not be a Pride parade this year, but there will be a march/rally from 1 to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Saturday�s street festival will end at 6 p.m. Bumgardner said they are still looking at other venues offsite for later that evening, possibly for youth through the assistance of the LGBTQIA office at UMKC, or partnering with the gay bars. Pride is also doing an event that evening at The Jones rooftop pool in the P&L district from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Exhibitors won�t have to contend with wet grass for their chairs and tables as they sometimes have in the past. They will have dry concrete instead.

Bumgardner said, �We�ve cut the price of the exhibit space in half. April 30 is the day we�ve asked everybody to submit an application before there is a late fee that goes into effect.� Pride wants the count of exhibitors by this date to ensure they have the correct number of booth tents but will still accept exhibitors up to the week of the festival.

Fourteenth Street between Main and Grand, and Walnut between 13th and 15th Streets will be closed off. �We�re trying to negotiate with the Sprint Center to let us close Grand as well,� Bumgardner said. �They do have an arena football game there on Saturday.�

Other elements of Pride remain the same for 2011. Bumgardner said that three $1,000 scholarships, named after the consummate Pride volunteer Dave Anders, who passed away last year, will still be offered. They might add two more if they can raise more money in sponsorships. A KidZone area at the street festival will be available for children. And the gay bars will again produce their entertainment acts on stage.

Unlike other years, when the Royalty Court was decided before the festival, this year the preliminary competition will be at Missie B�s in advance and the announcements will be on stage at Pride.

Events preceding Pride Week will include:

May 15. Show Me Pride will partner with the Lesbian and Gay Community Center for the first time on LGCC�s annual spring picnic in Swope Park.

May 15. �Reunite The Rainbow� fundraiser for Pride at Sidekicks Saloon.

May 19. Royalty Court preliminary pageant at Missie B�s.

May 20. �Dress to Impress� at the Garment District in downtown Kansas City.

May 28. Kickoff party at The Jones rooftop pool for Pride.

In the week before the Pride festival, there will be:

Monday evening, May 30. Movie at the Tivoli, followed by a Candlelight Vigil at the J.C. Nichols Fountain.

Tuesday, May 31. Educational symposiums.

Wednesday evening, June 1. Interfaith Service.

Thursday evening, June 2. AIDS Memorial Quilt Dinner.

Look for all the details at and in the Camp PrideGuide being published later in May and distributed at the Pride festival.

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