This year, the Capital City Pride Festival has more to love. In the past, the festival and parade have happened on a Sunday; this year, the festival moves to Saturday, with the parade and some entertainment remaining on Sunday.
“We heard from the community that people wanted more opportunities to participate,” said Tony Sermonti, the parade’s communications coordinator. “Also, the festival is growing so much that it was getting harder and harder to manage all those moving pieces on one day.”
Attendance during the past few years has ranged from 7,000-10,000 people. This year, Sermonti expects about 50 parade entries and 65 booths. The event has unofficially spanned the weekend, anyway, with affiliated events around town. “The reality is that there’s events all weekend long, really,” Sermonti said.
There’s a lineup of big-name entertainment this year, including Kimya Dawson, who rose to prominence when her music was featured on the soundtrack for the 2007 film “Juno,” and Captain Smartypants, the Seattle Men’s Chorus’s popular small ensemble.
“It’s pretty rad,” said Shameka Gagnier, the lead singer of The Press, which will play Saturday. “They get such a great entertainment lineup.”
Sermonti said, “We are really lucky to be in this community with the support we get from the community and local businesses but the reality is that we’re in tough economic times. We are spending less this year, but we were able to get the same caliber of entertainment that we’ve gotten the last couple of years for a little less.”
The Olympia parade began in 1991 as a simple march in support of gay rights, according to Anna Schlecht, who co-chaired the festival for many years.
“In 1991, there was still a lot of fear and a lack of awareness around gay-rights issues,” she told The Olympian in a past interview. “Gay people were afraid to come out.”
While gay rights is still a part of what Pride is about, the event has become primarily an occasion for fun for people of all sexual orientations.
“A lot of couples bring their kids,” Gagnier said. “A lot of aunts and uncles bring their nieces and nephews and a lot of siblings bring their siblings. That’s one thing that I really love about it. It’s an awesome community event. I usually go and sometimes I help out setting up.”
Sermonti said, “That’s what makes Olympia’s Capital City Pride unique. We are family friendly and inclusive. We welcome everyone.
“It’s really our day to show that we are one community.”