Gay pride festival takes to the streets

Music, storytelling, artists and lots of dancing at second annual street fair

Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2001

Musicians, crafts and a "Token Straight Guy's Barbeque" highlight Juneau's Second Annual Pride Festival.

Southeast Alaska Gay and Lesbian Alliance organizers are getting ready for the street fair, which will take place from noon to 11 p.m. next Saturday, June 2, on Second Street between Seward and Main. Local artists will sell jewelry, ceramics and prints, the Pride Chorus will perform, and Jeff Brown and Brett Dillingham will make balloon animals and tell stories.

"All these elements were present last year, but we're expecting a larger event this year because we're having more crafts people and more word of mouth," said Chris Beanes, a SEAGLA board member who's helping to coordinate the event.

The fair is highlighted by performances from a number of musical artists, including Chicago singer/songwriter Ripley Caine. The Glacial Erratics will perform with Kim Barlow of Whitehorse, who will also do a solo set. The Panhandle Crabgrass Revival Band, a portion of the Bob Family Band and Rory Merritt Stitt will also be showcased.

"Hopefully we'll have a variety of speakers and poets that come up in between the music," said Jeremy Neldon, SEAGLA president and event organizer. "We will have a raffle that's a fundraiser for SEAGLA that goes on all day with over 26 chances of winning."

Then there's the "Token Straight Guy's Barbeque," which will be prepared by Silverbow owners Ken Alper and his wife, Jill Ramiel.

"Ken and Jill have been wonderful in supporting the gay community and this event," Neldon said.

To the surprise of event organizers, attendance at last year's festival was an estimated 500 to 600, with several hundred people in attendance at any given time. This year, Beanes said, attendance is tentatively estimated at about 1,000 people, with a peak at midday.

As a new touch, gay and lesbian families will be brought on stage and recognized for their contributions to the community.

"There are a lot of communities out there in the gay and lesbian community itself," Beanes said. "It doesn't just include single people. It includes families. It includes minorities. It includes transgendered people."

This sense of inclusion was an important component of last year's celebration, Neldon added.

"The event last year in Juneau was probably one of the best days in Juneau I've ever experienced because of the wonderful energy and acceptance and joy," he said. "I hope that someone can have a similar experience at this one."

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