Attendance good during ’08 Pride Festival

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More than 13,000 people convened in Centennial Park on June 1 for Nashville’s 20th annual Pride Festival.

Doug Sladen, president of Nashville Pride, Inc., said in a press release that moving the event to Sunday for the first time had no apparent effect on attendance.

 “This was likely one of our best Pride festivals ever,” Sladen said. “The Pride board really did a tremendous job on this event and the Nashville GLBT community responded by coming out in force.”

Vendors filled 90 booths at Sunday’s event and several more booths were left vacant for walk-up vendors, Sladen said. There was an increase in the number of booths for houses of worship, with churches including Holy Trinity and Covenant of the Cross offering study groups and worship sessions tailored to the GLBT community, according to the release.

This year’s event was moved from Saturday to Sunday in order to extend the festivities through the entire weekend culminating in a grand Sunday finale, Sladen said in the release. The weekend’s events had a carnival theme with juggling, fire-eating and balloon sculptures. Performances by Kristine W. and several local artists enlivened crowds on Sunday. Ultra Nate was scheduled to perform in the park but a delayed flight in Atlanta caused her to miss the performance. She arrived in Nashville late Sunday night for a performance at Play Dance Bar.

During Sunday’s festivities, Klint Peebles and Bobbie Zaiden were awarded a $500 Pride Scholarship to go toward the cost of college tuition. A portion of the board’s budget has been allotted for the two scholarships each year since 2005. Former Pride President Brad Bennett said the scholarship is a way for the board to give back to the community.

"The scholarship helps to ensure that we as a GLBT community have strong leaders within the greater Nashville community," Bennett said.

Jon Glassmeyer, who represented both Artrageous and the Nashville Grizzlies rugby team during the festival said in a release that he believed the event was a success.

“The Nashville community was well represented by both attendees and vendors”, Glassmeyer said. “I am convinced our participation was well worth the time and money. Any concerns about the change to a Sunday event appear to have been laid to rest.  The organizers should be proud of a job well done.”