Inaugural Pride Festival happening this weekend
The inaugural Woodlands Pride Festival is finally here.
Featuring five food trucks, more than 70 vendors and an abundance of entertainers, the first ever LGBTQIA pride festival in The Woodlands will have something for everyone to enjoy. Created and coordinated by The Woodlands Pride organization, the event is scheduled for 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, at Town Green Park and will be followed by an after party.
Ryan Elkins, director of public relations for The Woodlands Pride, noted that the event is intended to bring the community together.
“We have everything from animal shelters to pet care to local masseuses all the way to jewelry being sold and clothing. Local community groups and churches (will have booths set up),” Elkins said. “We really have a wide variety, which we thought was very important to represent all parts of the local community.”
The entertainment lineup includes the Houston Pride Band, various DJs, drag shows and headliner entertainer “Nebraska” from the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Derrick Shore from KPRC Channel 2 and “Persephone,” the first Miss Hamburger Mary’s Houston, will emcee the event.
Guest speaker and LGBTQIA ally Kimberly Shappley, whose daughter is transgender, will share her story and discuss issues facing transgender individuals.
“(Shappley) was in the news for the last year. Her child came out as trans(gender). Her making national news, her being shunned from her church. She lost a lot of family because of her child coming out as trans,” Elkins explained. “She’s a mother. She’s a conservative. She’s not the traditional advocate. She’ll be speaking on issues facing trans kids and trans people in general.”
Susan Cottrell, founder of the nonprofit FreedHearts which helps parents reconcile their religious faith with loving their LGBTQIA child, will also speak at the festival.
Elkins noted that the group has been working with local law enforcement to ensure the safety of attendees so that “they feel like they can be themselves.”
“We do have local law enforcement that will be in attendance. We have coordinated to ensure it’s a safe event for everyone. We will have undercover and suited officers at the event,” Elkins said.
To round out the Pride experience, there will be a kickoff and after party for those 21 and older. The Woodlands Pride Pool Deck Kickoff Party is scheduled for 7:30-11 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7, at The Westin located at 2 Waterway Square Place. Tickets cost $10 and access to the party with a live DJ, pool deck games and a chance to win a weekend escape for two to The Westin at The Woodlands. Tickets for the kickoff party can be purchased at https://bit.ly/2JBVx1n. The after party, which is free, will immediately follow the festival at the Ranch Hill Saloon located at 24704 I-45, Spring.
“We’re just excited to have people come out and celebrate the inaugural Pride Festival. We’re excited to contribute to The Woodlands being a diverse community, to give the LGBT community a place to come out and be themselves and our allies as well,” Elkins said. “But really this is an event for everyone. We encourage people to come out to show their love and support at this event that’s become larger than we could have ever imagined.”
The festival will go on rain or shine and is free to attend. A limited amount of VIP ticket options are available and include an open bar, entertainment meet and greet and a private restroom. Lyft will be offering half off rides to and from the event. To learn more, visit The Woodlands Pride Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheWoodlandsPride.