Manatee Pride holds sixth annual celebration

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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BRADENTON, Fla. | The Manatee Pride Festival will hold its sixth annual celebration at the Bradenton Riverwalk on March 16.

Manatee Pride, which consists entirely of volunteers, is aimed at empowering the LGBTQ community who love, live in or visit Bradenton, its nearby communities and the greater Manatee County area. It serves as a fundraiser for Prism Youth Initiative, the nonprofit dedicated to providing services and support for LGBTQ youth throughout the county since 2010.“The Manatee Pride Festival has grown through the years,” the organization announced via press release Feb. 28. “This year, the event will have the largest number of live entertainers, and more vendors than ever, providing fun for the whole family.”

“We’ve held five consecutive Pride events and have been warmly welcomed by the community,” Prism Youth Initiative board president and Manatee Pride committee chair Valerie Fisher says. “It’s grown every year and we’re so thrilled. We very much appreciate the city’s approval of and support for this event.”

While Pride kicks off at noon, Fisher says, the day’s festivities will actually begin at 11:45 a.m. with an interfaith service led by clergy from local faith communities. “It’s a blessing,” she shares. “We’re happy that they want to do that with and for us.”

The festival’s extensive entertainment spearheaded by fan-favorite performer Beneva Fruitville will follow. “She will be our mistress of ceremonies and we are so thrilled about that,” Fisher says. “She has been at every Pride we’ve had.”

Additional drag entertainment will also be featured, including the debut performance of drag king and area youth Ciel Storm. The Players Kids from The Players Centre for Performing Arts, The Jami Gee Trio, Moxie Moxie, Big City Steve, Divine AF and Sandi Grecco will also perform live as DJ Oliver Dill spins.

Over 50 sponsors and vendors will be highlighted, Fisher adds, including the event’s returning sponsor CAN Community Health. The organization will be onsite to offer free health screenings.

“Manatee Pride is family friendly and it’s fun,” Fisher explains. “Our mission is to provide a safe, warm and welcoming place for LGBTQ youth and I’m happy to say that we’re doing that. There’s a lot to see and a lot to do; it’s just a wonderful venue.”

“We have food, music, drag queens and raffles,” Fisher muses. “We just encourage everyone to come for the day or just stop by—we’re celebrating our community and everyone is welcome.”

The sixth annual Manatee Pride will be held Saturday, March 16 from noon–5 p.m. Public parking for the free event is available along the Riverwalk. For more information, including remaining sponsorship and vendor opportunities, visit ManateePride.com.

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