City celebrates its first Pride Day and the return of the Main Street Festival
By Katie V. Jones
Laurel Councilmember James Kole (Ward 1) is excited.
On Oct. 8, the city will host its first Pride Day event, and he is at the helm, chartering new territory.
“It might be a small event or a large event,” Kole said. “There are not many fall Pride events, so we have no competition.”
June was designated Pride Month in 1999, and events have been held throughout the country since then. October is recognized as LGBTQ History Month, and Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day.
“In June, there are Pride events every weekend. We didn’t want to interfere with other established events in the area,” said Dana Cunningham, social media contact for the city’s Pride Day committee. “We want to get the word out and have a solid showing.”
Kole noted that a number of drag queens will participate in the celebration, and there will be a DJ playing music. He said he hoped to include speakers sharing their coming out stories.
“It’s interesting to hear what people go through,” Kole said.
The family-friendly event will feature activities for children, a variety of vendors, booths with educational material and work by local artists.
“We want people to hang out, have fun and celebrate Pride in Laurel,” Cunningham said.
The committee is networking with other Pride groups in the area, Cunningham said, and several other city committees have been helping, too.
“Because we are using the same site [Granville Gude Park], the Fourth of July Committee has been really helpful showing us the ropes,” Cunningham said. “Many have supported us at other Laurel events.”
The city has authorized use of the park and is providing security, Kole said. He also noted that the city is helping the committee obtain permits.
“From what he [Kole] tells me, it will be a good day for a celebration,” said Mayor Craig Moe.
“It will educate us as well.”
Committee member Amy Dunham wrote in an email that the festival will also serve as a reminder. “LGBTQ+ individuals still face discrimination relating to personal experiences and our civil rights,” Dunham wrote. “I feel incredibly lucky to be in an area that is generally very open, accepting, and where our city can host a pride festival.”
The city of Laurel Pride Day will take place Oct. 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Granville Gude Park. Vendors, entertainers and volunteers can apply now through Sept. 23 by emailing LaurelPrideDayCommittee@gmail.com or on the committee’s Facebook page.
Main Street Festival returns Oct. 15
After a two-year absence, the city of Laurel’s popular Main Street Festival was scheduled to return on May 7 but the threat of severe weather caused its cancellation.
“Everybody I talked to the Friday before said ‘Thank God,” said Maureen Rogers, committee chair for The Laurel Board of Trade, organizers of the event. “It was terrible. Forty degrees and raining.”
Instead of canceling the event altogether, organizers rescheduled it for Oct. 15.
“We’re picking up new interest,” Rogers said. “We’ve got some new vendors who haven’t been in the festival before. … different kinds of food, more coffee vendors are coming out.”
The festival will also feature a larger arts and crafts area this year that will include items made of wood, metal and glass. A DJ and several bands, including Not 2 Cool Jazz Trio; Bach to Rock, a student band; and Violent Relaxation, a funk rock band, will provide entertainment.
Festivities kick off with a parade at 9 a.m. featuring fire engines, actors with the Laurel Mill Playhouse, the US Spyder Ryders motorcycle club and more.
Rogers noted that the festival will return to a May date next year.
“It’s been a wild time,” Rogers said, of the planning. “It will be just as much fun.”
Laurel’s Main Street Festival will take place Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vendors, entertainers and volunteers can apply now through Sept. 12 at laurelboardoftrade.org