“Come out, come out whoever you are!”
This was a common phrase written out on T-shirts, which multiple people were seen wearing around the St. George Pride Festival over the weekend.
The festival was full of live music, food trucks and booths from local businesses. This was the first multi-day pride festival for St. George, with a sold out drag show and community dance on Friday night and the festival itself on Saturday night.
The festival went from 3-10 p.m. and was held at town square. Local bands played on one end of the field, while the other had booths from a wide variety of businesses including a henna tattoo booth, multiple handmade jewelry booths, and a Planned Parenthood booth.
Although the festival was small, compared to most pride celebrations, it was a weekend event instead of the usual single-day festival St. George has had in the past, showing that the festival is growing year by year.
The festival had a wide variety of people in attendance this year, including families, members of the LGBTQ community and students from Dixie State University.
The Planned Parenthood booth is a common sight at most pride events nationwide. The booth at this weekend’s pride was run by a group of students from DSU who were excited by the positive feedback they had received from the festival this year. Ashley Snyder, a media studies major from St. George, has been working for Planned Parenthood for two years and is the co-vice president of the Students for Choice club at DSU.
“I’ve seen so much support, and it’s not something that I’d dream of even in St. George, so that’s pretty spectacular,” Snyder said.
Snyder wasn’t the only one surprised by the amount of support at the festival this year. Rachel Ellis, a St. George resident and member of the Mama Dragons, an organization of mothers who have children in the LGBTQ community who are all about supporting their children and each other, said the amount of support from the people at the festival is a big step for the LGBTQ community in St. George.
“We’ve had nothing negative…which is awesome,” said Ellis. “I wonder if it just flew under the radar. I’m grateful, whatever it was.”
Many people, including Ellis, mentioned with St. George being a, somewhat conservative, small town it was a big deal to not have any backlash at the festival.
John Meisner worked security for the event and works with a group called Allies on Campus at Southern Utah University. He said there wasn’t any picketing or protesters, and it was a “huge relief.”
“We’ve been excited because there [have] not been any problems at all,” Meisner said. “Everybody’s been super friendly; people seem really happy. It’s nice to just hangout and have a good time.”
Meisner also said the festival has been growing. Not only was this the first multi-day festival, but town square was a bigger venue than it ever had. In past years, the events had been held in a smaller park near Legend Solar Stadium. Although there was some confusion about when the festival was and what events were happening, due to multiple Facebook pages with differing information, the festival still seemed to be described as a success given.
St. George is surrounded by larger cities with bigger pride festivals, but Meisner is confident the community is headed in the same direction.