30 & Fabulous: 30 Years of the Grand Rapids Pride FestivalJun 05, 2018 10:00AM ● By WLMagazine
by Bri Kilroy | photos courtesy of Grand Rapids Pride center
The best thing about the Grand Rapids Pride Festival: 30 & Fabulous event is you don’t have to be age 30 to attend; you don’t even have to identify as “fabulous.”The only thing you have to be is yourself, and that puts you on the guest list for the Grand Rapids Pride Center’s largest fundraising party in West Michigan.
On June 16 along Ottawa Avenue and at Calder Plaza, the GR Pride Festival celebrates 30 years of bringing the community together to applaud the treasure trove of personalities and preferences that make up our vibrant population.
“It’s a celebration of being who you are and coming together,” Rob Sparks, Co-Chair of the Grand Rapids Pride Center, said. “The entire world is invited.”
While the week leading up the celebration is full of events, the day of the festival is something you don’t want to miss; the party draws community members in brilliant attire and emanates nothing but the act of coming together to relish how far we have come.
“As the world has changed and grown in acceptance, we’ve seen our attendance and festival grow,” Sparks continued. “The uphill battle of executing the GR Pride Festival in 1988 and the years following is undeniable, but we have also advanced in acceptance and self-expression to the point where the festival is bigger and more popular than ever.”
“As the world has changed and grown in acceptance, we’ve seen our attendance and festival grow,” - Robert Sparks
Sparks expressed that the change in language alone toward the LGBTQ community (the headline announcing the inaugural GR Pride Fest read, “Homosexuals Open Community Center”) symbolizes a milestone in the way people view the celebration.
More than 100 vendors position along Ottawa Avenue during the festivities to offer LBGTQ resources along with clothes and products available for purchase.
The festival pumps up the volume and kicks off an unprecedented lineup of entertainment at 6 p.m. Performing artists include former American Idol finalist David Hernandez, Australian singer/songwriter Betty Who and R&B/pop vocal group En Vogue; DJ Keller and local performers fill the party’s playlist before then. Regardless of whether or not the music is enough to feed your energy, food trucks and beer sponsor, Bell’s Brewery, are onsite to give you a little extra. The all-inclusive guest list includes the whole family; the celebration is family-friendly and has a kids tent for the little ones to partake in activities and fun.
Join GR Pride in celebrating 30 years of creating a platform for everyone to express themselves. Tickets to the GR Pride Festival are available through GRPride.com or at the festival entrance.
What: Grand Rapids Pride Festival
Where: Calder Plaza, 300 Monroe Ave. NW
When: June 16, noon-10 p.m. (GR Pride Week runs June 8-17).
Cost: $8/general admission, $50/VIP. Tickets at GRPRide.com or at the festival entrance.
Bri Kilroy is a Grand Valley and AmeriCorps alumna who learned to type through vigorous Mavis Beacon trainings. She also passes as an artist, illustrator and author of this bio.