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Pride returning to Westminster with pair of popular events

Though June is traditionally recognized as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, two events in Carroll take place in July, making their second annual appearances in Westminster.

Westminster Pride Festival

Westminster Pride, the first Pride festival in Carroll County, makes a return for the second year on July 13 from 12-5 p.m. on East Main Street in Westminster.

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“Last year went far better than we had originally anticipated,” said Jason Garber, a member of the organizing committee for the event.

They told themselves, “‘Even if we get one person we will consider it a success.’ And then last year, we blew that away. Over 2,500 people showed up. It honestly shocked all of us because we did not expect that kind of love and support from Westminster. And it was nothing but love and support and a great time,” Garber said.

With the response last year, it has been easier to find more vendors and more sponsors who will line the sides of the streets for guests to browse. Along with that, the organizers anticipate even more participants.

The event is free and open to the public. Food and beverages are available for purchase from a variety of vendors.

The physical layout of the street festival has expanded, and the two small spaces for performers will be concentrated into one stage at the center of the festival.

The organizers secured a license so that guests of drinking age will be able to take their beverages throughout the festival instead of needing to stay inside a beer tent.

“Other than that, it's pretty much the same, just bigger and better,” Garber said.

A pre-party and fundraiser for the Westminster Pride Festival will be held at local Westminster art studio Cob51 on July 6 at 400 N. Center Street, Westminster from 6-9 p.m.

And 20% portion of the proceeds from a night of painting and crafts will benefit the festival, and organizers of Westminster Pride will be there to meet people.

Registration for each guest is $10, plus the cost of the participant’s creations during the evening. The event is BYOB, though there will be coffee and snacks provided.

The festival is still accepting vendors, sponsors and volunteers. For more information, visit www.westminsterpride.org. For updates on the event as they happen, look to Westminster Maryland Pride Festival on Facebook and Instagram.

Kit Valentine, of Taylorsville, poses for photos at the first Westminster Pride Festival on East Main Street on Saturday, July 7, 2018.
Kit Valentine, of Taylorsville, poses for photos at the first Westminster Pride Festival on East Main Street on Saturday, July 7, 2018. (Alan White/For Carroll County Times)
Shantay You Stay

For the second year, PFLAG will sponsor “Shantay You Stay,” a drag performance that sold out in about 24 hours the first time around.

This year, they have scheduled two shows — July 6 at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. The earlier show will be more “PG-13,” while the “naughty” show later has some more adult language. The later show has proven the most popular and is sold out, but seats are still available for the 4:30 show.

Tickets are $15 for general admission and $40 for premium seating and two drink tickets and can be found at www.pflagwcc.org/pridedragshow or on the Facebook page for Pflag Westminster - Carroll County.

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The Westminster-Carroll County branch is part of the nationwide organization of PFLAG, dedicated to the equality of people on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. They meet on the third Sunday of the month at 5 p.m. at St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Westminster. Their next official meeting will be in September because they do not meet in June, July or August, according to their website.

There will be a cash bar and light refreshments. Six queens are lined up to perform for the evening and many are local or have local ties.

“There is lively banter, good music and in general a good time,” Judy Gaver, a member of the PFLAG Steering Committee, said.

Gaver added that many members of PFLAG felt it was the right time to bring Pride activities to their area after attending events in other places. “As the mom of a gay young man, and someone who has been involved with PFLAG for 18-plus years, it makes me happy to see Pride events in our hometown,” she said, “so the LGBTQ+ folks out there will see they are respected, accepted and loved, something they may not have been exactly sure of before.”

More information about PFLAG Westminster-Carroll County is available at www.pflagwcc.org.

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