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Southern Utah Pride Kicks Off

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The sixth annual Southern Utah Pride Festival will be held Sept. 26-27 in the cozy resort town of Springdale, UT. And organizers are predicting that this year’s celebration will be the biggest yet. 

Festivities will begin on Friday, Sept. 26 with what Southern Utah Pride Association, Inc. president Chris McArdle described as an addition to the programming to honor lesbian awareness and lesbian participation in the event.

“We’ve decided to do a last-minute dyke march!” he said. Participants, he added, should meet at 7:00 p.m. at the intersection of Zion Park Blvd. and Lyons Blvd. (that is, the road leading past the festival grounds at Springdale Park). Participants will then march to the OC Tanner Amphitheater where they will open the festival kick off dance at 8:00 p.m. The jam, which will last until 2:00 a.m., will feature tunes spun by local DJ Josh and globetrotting DJ Dega, who has his roots in Salt Lake City.

As in years past, SUP will also hold an amateur drag contest on the Friday before the big parade. Grand Marshal Dani Campbell (from MTV’s bisexual dating show A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila) will crown the winners – a king and a queen. The performance will start at 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 27 is an even busier day. Hungry festival goers can get breakfast at the festival grounds’ gazebo from 10:00 a.m. – noon. A microbrew beer garden will also be open throughout the day.

Another exciting last minute addition, said McArdle, is a motorcycle ride through nearby Zion National Park allowing bikers to take advantage of the park’s free entrance day. Dubbed the Zion Thunder Bike Ride, it will start promptly at 11:30 a.m. and end literally in front of the parade at 1:00 p.m.

The plan, said McArdle, is for the bikers to ride back to the parade and then lead it.

 “Can you get the visual of the motorcycles coming down the empty rode, vroom vroom, and then the parade starts?” he said.

According to the event’s Web site, this year’s parade has 20 entrants with “many more” expected to join. Participants are asked to check in by 11:00 a.m. to take their places in the line. The parade will travel up Zion Park Blvd. and turn left on Lyons Blvd, funneling participants and watchers into the festival grounds at Springdale Town Park.

This year’s festival grounds will feature a number of activities, including a dance area open from 2:00-7:00 p.m. (presided over by DJ Pop ‘N Fresh), a number of vendors and a health fair offering free HIV/AIDS and STD testing. Organizations including the Utah Department of Health, the Utah AIDS Foundation, Planned Parenthood of Utah, Community Counseling Center of Utah and the Washington County HIV/AIDS Task Force will be present from 12:00-6:00 p.m.
Salt Lake City drag queen extraordinaire Nova Starr will emcee performances on the festival grounds’ main stage, including performances by color guard the Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps of Salt Lake City, local band Western Bone Cleavers and belly dancers. Featured artists Liz Clark and Brian Kent will perform later in the afternoon at 4:30 p.m and 6:45 p.m. respectively. A number of gay and gay-friendly Utah politicians will also take the stage for a 2:15 p.m. flag ceremony, including Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, Reps. Jackie Biskupski and Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake City, and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Bob Springmeyer and his Lt. Governor choice, Josie Valdez.

Grand Marshal Dani Campbell will preside over the evening’s events at the OC Tanner Amphitheatre, including the introduction of SUP’s King and Queen 2008, performances by Nova Starr and the Salt City Kings, and a 9:30 performance by featured artist Ari Gold. The festival after party will close the night.

Currently, the festival camp grounds are all but filled up, but hotel spaces in neighboring towns may be available. McArdle added that festival goers bringing pets should be aware that animals are not permitted in the camp site, but can be housed in RVs.

For more information about the festival and to get a complete schedule of events visit southernutahpride.org.  

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