Arts & Culture

Cedar Rapids Pride Fest celebrating increased visibility

Organizers expecting higher turnout in fest's second year at NewBo

Jazzman Love, a drag queen from Cedar Rapids, performs at Cedar Rapids Pride Fest at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, July 8, 2017. Pride Fest moved to a new location this year and featured what organizers called a record number of vendors. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette).
Jazzman Love, a drag queen from Cedar Rapids, performs at Cedar Rapids Pride Fest at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, July 8, 2017. Pride Fest moved to a new location this year and featured what organizers called a record number of vendors. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette).
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Jen Rowray says she has seen the Cedar Rapids Pride Fest come a long way toward becoming inclusive of all members of the LGBTQ community and its allies.

This year’s Pride Fest, complete with vendors and a variety of entertainment, will celebrate its second year at NewBo City Market from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Rowray, a board member of Pride Fest who serves as treasurer, helped get the festival to its new, more visible location for the first time last year. It had been held at Greene Square in the past, as well as Belle’s Basix, a bar that remains prominent in the local LGBTQ community.

As a result of the location change, organizers saw an increase in vendors from about 40 to 75 in 2017. Rowray said there will be more than 100 vendors at this year’s fest.

Turnout also has spiked, Rowray said, with last year’s attendance being around 5,000. Organizers estimate this year’s turnout to exceed that, potentially reaching 7,000.

Pride Month is celebrated in June, but Rowray said Cedar Rapids hosts its festival in July to avoid competition with larger Pride festivals and allow for more time to organize and book acts.

Rowray said new sponsorships this year have allowed the festival to grow. The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation granted $2,500 to provide American Sign Language interpreters at the fest. Toyota Financial and General Mills also came on board as sponsors.

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Transamerica has sponsored the stage the last couple of years, she said, covering the costs of the acts and part of the sound equipment.

DJ Lady J will grace the stage, as will two bands: The Slow Retreat and Mansfield Avenue.

Other entertainment includes a drag show, children’s activities and the Eastern Iowa Circus Collective.

“The whole point of our Pride is visibility in our community,” she said. “We want people to see LGBT people and we want our friends and family to celebrate with us.”

If you go

• What: Cedar Rapids Pride Fest

• When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today

• Where: NewBo City Market, 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids

• Cost: Free; bring money to purchase items from vendors

• Website: Go to crpridefest.com for more details

l Comments: (319) 398-8332; marissa.payne@thegazette.com

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