After participating in numerous other festivals in Old Ellicott City, shop owners Doug Yeakey and his husband, Lance Sovine, decided it was time for the historic Main Street businesses to host their own Pride event.
The month of June is LGBTQ+ Pride month, celebrated each year nationwide to honor the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City. Numerous Pride events are scheduled throughout the state this month, Yeakey said.
With just less than two months of planning, the OEC Pride festival fell into place. The event is set for Saturday and Sunday in and around Ellicott City, with a Mascara Run, Drag Queen Story Time, wine tasting and brunch, an arts show, movie screening and more planned.
For a full listing of events, go to visitoldellicottcity.com.
“We reached out to different businesses and said what we wanted to do [and] everyone took over their own thing,” said Yeakey, who owns E.C. Pops, a popcorn shop with a branch in Ellicott City. “We wanted to pack as many events as we could over the course of the weekend.”
Stephanie Wells, owner of the Flower Barn, put together a high-heel scavenger hunt during which participants will collect Pride-inspired treats and trinkets from 40 participating businesses.
“[Scavenger hunts are] something we do for every event in Ellicott City,” Wells said. “It is a way to bring awareness to all the local establishments participating.”
Shop owners will also offer various specials and their own attractions, too, such as face painting and lots of glitter, Wells said.
“We want to make it a fun day for all,” Wells said. “We’re super excited.”
AxGard, an axe-throwing and virtual reality arcade on Main Street, is hosting the Mascara Run, during which participants will throw axes then travel to 10 other stations to apply lipstick and mascara, while wearing high heels.
For its weekly free movie screening, the Wine Bin will show “The Birdcage,” a 1996 movie featuring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a gay couple who own a drag club. There will also be wine tastings in the Bin’s parking lot Saturday.
E.C. Pops will host a Drag Queen Story Time on Saturday. On Sunday, the shop is partnering with Clayground Studio and Gallery to present an artist fair that will feature local jewelers, painters and potters.
La Palapa Grill and Cantina will host the Drag Me To Brunch! event Sunday, which is likely to sell out, Yeakey said.
Organizers shied away from hosting Ellicott City’s first Pride festival on the same day as Baltimore’s (June 24) and Washington, D.C.’s (June 11), but it will coincide with Annapolis’ established parade and festival on June 4.
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“Annapolis is a one day on Saturday,” Yeakey said. “We’re open on Sunday, too.”
There has been a lot of excited feedback about the event, Yeakey said, and he is already planning next year’s OEC Pride, which he expects will be even bigger.
Wells envisions next year’s Pride festival to include a parade, too.
“Everyone is asking, ‘Is there a parade?’” Wells said. “We put this together in two months. Next year.”
Proceeds from the event will go to HoCo Pride and PFLAG Columbia-Howard County, which support and provide education about the LGBTQ+ community.