Wonderful weather and beautiful people combined at Milwaukee’s lakefront for the 30th anniversary of PrideFest Milwaukee, one of the nation’s largest celebrations of LGBTQ culture and community.
With 37,682 visitors attending this year’s festival from June 9 to 11, attendance was up 13% over the previous record of 33,438 set in 2016. Through the PrideFest Plus One campaign , PrideFest raised $5,109 for GSAFE, Wisconsin’s greatest advocate for LGBTQ students in an academic setting.
“We were honored and humbled to see such colossal turnout,” said Michail Takach, vice president of Milwaukee Pride. “There was such a powerful, positive energy in the air all weekend. I’ve never felt anything like it.”
Multiple admission specials, including Free Opening Ceremonies, Fests Feed Milwaukee and Armed Forces Pride promotions, ensured open access to the celebration. PrideFest Milwaukee, operated entirely by volunteers, also offers free admission to anyone who contributes to the community experience as a festival volunteer.
“This year’s festival meant more to me than anyone can possibly imagine,” said Kate Sherry, festival producer. “I can not praise our team of dedicated festival volunteers enough for their countless hours of hard work and determination to create a fun, safe, and proud space for everyone on the grounds.”
“So much is put into this festival from day one of planning, to the moment the gates close on the final night, and I am so proud of just how much we can achieve when coming together. Everything they do, is not for themselves, but for the goal of celebrating our resilient community. All weekend long, I watched people having fun, and inevitably, I’d spot one of us sitting back, smiling at the happiness and joy they helped to create.”
PrideFest Milwaukee 2017 featured headliners Betty Who, 10,000 Maniacs, Steve Grand and Todrick Hall, along with over 150 diverse acts on eight stages. Randy Rainbow, political commentator, served as Master of Ceremonies and marriage equality activist Jim Obergefell hosted Opening Ceremonies as keynote speaker.
“This year’s 30th anniversary of PrideFest was the celebration it deserved,” said Wes Shaver, president of Milwaukee Pride. “I am so proud of our entire team of volunteers that helped orchestrate, once again, a world class event. It’s our pleasure to be a part of the United Ethnic Festivals and to officially kick off our summer festival season.”
Photo: Lee Matz, Video: docUWM