New initiatives help reignite Fort Collins PrideFest
August 13, 2012 | 2:28 pm
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 5:52 pm)
Two entertainment stages, a Michael Jackson impersonator, dogs in drag, a petting zoo, DJs, crafts, food, beer and sparkling costumes are only a fragment of what Fort Collins PrideFest will feature in September.
“I think there’s going to be a unique buzz,” said DeMarcio Slaughter, the organizer and emcee of the main stage. “The audiences should be ready to see a greater extension of what was started here in Denver, with the experience being much more up close and personal.”
It’s the first time the festival will take place since the Lambda Facility closed late last year due to financial difficulties – a reason PrideFest did not take place in 2011. The new and approved 2012 Pride Fest party is slated from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Sept. 8 at Civic Center Park in Old Town Fort Collins. Unlike Denver’s PrideFest, there is no parade.
The day kicks off with family-friendly entertainment, including mellow jazz tunes and kiddy karaoke, allowing children up to the age of 12 to sing on stage to their favorite pop songs.
“It’s so cute to watch 4, 5, 6, 7 year old kids singing a long on a big stage. It’s always heartwarming,” Slaughter said.
With 20 to 30 vendor booths lined up in the park, the festival offers a great opportunity for an economic boost, said City Councilwoman Lisa Poppaw.
“Not only is it good from a Social standpoint, but I find it intriguing from the economic standpoint as well,” Poppaw said. “I think that the way that the Center has come into Fort Collins has been very well planned and very well thought out, especially with PrideFest.”
The Center opened its Northern Colorado bureau on Jan. 3 of this year, taking the place of Lambda, which was a much different operation.
“Lamda was kinda small. We very much needed to have a larger space like the Center here in Northern Colorado,” said Clint Andrews, who is one of 10 members on Center’s Northern Colorado Advisory Committee.
The Fort Collins Center is located at 100 North Mason Street – just a few blocks from where the Lambda used to operate – which is slated to be the central vein of public transportation once Mason Street construction is finished, Andrews said.
The location is perfect for the LGBT community and is centrally located for easy access, he added.
“The community here likes to put their own stamp on it. They’re excited to see these programs and services grow,” Andrews said.
The Northern Colorado Advisory Committee commissioned a LGBT survey in March, in an effort to find what the community craves from the Center’s Northern office and from PrideFest.
The study was conducted by MGA Communications, and found that 81 percent of the 172 people who participated in the online survey said they were likely to attend PrideFest in Fort Collins, while 32 percent said they are very likely to make an appearance.
Most stated that they wanted to attend the event to increase “connecting with the LGBT community, and wanting to give more support to the LGBT community,” the survey states.
Additionally, roughly 79 percent said they were likely to purchase goods or services from vendors sponsoring the festival.
“I’m actually hearing that people are excited to have it back in Fort Collins and are excited about bringing new people into Fort Collins,” Poppaw said.
That’s exactly what Slaughter has in mind with the main stage. He’s booked various entertainment acts both from Northern Colorado and from Denver.
Entertainment on the main stage includes acts like Victoria Sexton – a female illusionist and the Top Knoch Dance Crew.
“They’re really flexible and bendy,” Slaughter said, adding that the SOS drag group out of Fort Collins will also bring five to seven performers to “light up the stage.”
At 3 p.m., Carlos Riley, the world-renowned Michael Jackson impressionist, will moonwalk across the stage.
“Once he takes the stage he’s going to blow the crowd away, so that’s a big deal for us,” Slaughter said.
The second stage – called Smirnoff Dance World – is where the DJs will spin favorite tunes for the crowd.
“I’m delighted it’s all going to become the fabric of Fort Collins,” Poppaw said. “It’s very much needed.”