Through a day filled with lively entertainment, heartfelt messages and family fun, Saturday’s Logan Pride Festival fulfilled its ultimate goal: to bring the community together and better understand and love one another.
“I hope people take from this festival a message of love and acceptance and just continue to spread it throughout their community, continue to speak out for minorities, and continue to just love everybody,” said Rachel Hager, Logan Pride Foundation treasurer.
That message reverberated throughout the day, starting in the morning with the Interfaith Service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, a program for anybody of any faith — or no faith — wishing to voice their acceptance of the LGBTQ community.
The service could best be described by a line from the opening hymn, “We Are the Church Alive”: “Destroying myths of doubt and fear/In Jesus’ mighty name.”
“I think it provides a place for worshipping alongside people who are just people wanting to believe or be spiritual and share their love,” said Doree Burt, the interfaith coordinator for the Logan Pride Festival.
The service was not a formal one by any means. The speakers often joked with the audience, there was a moment where the audience could stand and mingle with other attendees, and numerous musical numbers filled the program, including a rousing rendition of “Lean On Me” with audience participation.
There were also solemn moments, such as the candlelight memorial to remember those LGBTQ members lost to suicide or other discrimination-related deaths, a flower communion prayer in which participants could reverently declare their participation in the LGBTQ community, and a blessing led by Reverend Scott Thalacker of the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church ELCA.
“We are Christians, straight and queer,” said Vicar Steve Sturgeon of St. John’s Episcopal Church.
“We are all one people — God’s people,” said Reverend Cindy Solomon-Klebba.
At noon, the service concluded and many attendees drove to Willow Park to continue the festivities there.
Entertainment included a performance from Shimmering Sands Belly Dance and music from artists like singer/songwriter Katie Jo, alternative rock band Bliss Witch, and local band Open Door Policy.
Numerous vendors and booths filled the park. Ogden Pride, Planned Parenthood, Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Gay-Straight Alliance clubs from numerous high schools, Asexuals of Utah, Provo Pride, the American Civil Liberties Union, and even the Cache Humane Society had booths set up at the park.
There were also religious organizations, such as Mormons for Equality, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Community of Christ, and the Cache Valley Unitarian Universalists, professing their messages of love and acceptance toward the LGBTQ community.
A food truck from Morty’s Café also sat adjacent to the park, hosting a line that never dwindled in size.
Attendees to the festival could buy a multiplicity of LGBTQ-related items, including T-shirts, bath bombs, glitter and rainbow tattoos, hats and even lingerie. There was also a booth run by the Mama Dragons, an organization of mothers who advocate for the rights of LGBTQ youth, giving out free hugs.
“I personally think that the best part of the festival are the booths, the vendors, the people who have donated and helped organize what makes this a great festival,” said Kathryn Sorenson, a Logan Pride youth leader.
Though the event is only in its second year, Sorenson assures that this year’s attendance was more than last year’s 2,500 people.
“Definitely a good turnout,” she said. “It’s definitely better than last year. Probably about double, maybe more.”
The festival not only attracted the college crowd, but families as well. The Youth Zone, which held activities like a ring toss, bracelet making and painting, proved to be a big hit.
“I think the Youth Zone is really what sets our pride festival apart from the other pride festivals that happen in Utah,” said Kaylee Litson, who oversees logistics at Logan Pride. “We have activities for youth, children, families. We try to create this to be a very family-friendly event.”
The festival is not an easy undertaking. Randy Golding, Logan Pride entertainment coordinator and public relations/marketing representative, said planning for the festival began in January, and planning for next year’s festival will most likely begin immediately after this one wraps up.
However, Logan Pride received help from sponsors like Square One Printing, Caffé Ibis, Even Stevens and Herm’s Inn. They also received support from Logan City and the Logan City Police Department.
“Logan City has been amazing to work with and the Logan City Police Department has been very receptive with all of the concerns that we brought to them,” Litson said.
With people wearing T-shirts that read, “Gay OK,” “There’s nothing wrong with love,” and “Some people are gay, get over it,” the purpose for the festival was never far from people’s minds.
Elaborating on that purpose, Golding said, “(The purpose is) to bring awareness that there is a queer community in Cache Valley and that we’re just like everybody else. We’re just people, we have families, we have jobs. Just like everybody else.”
Eight-year-old Grace put it best when she enthusiastically stated her purpose for coming to the festival.
I’m looking for some friends!”