Clarksville Pride announces festival details

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Clarksville Pride, Inc. has announced new details of its festivities which are planned for May 19 and 20th of this year. The Pride event has been split into two nights for 2006, with a Mr. & Miss Clarksville Pride drag pageant scheduled for the 19th and the Festival on the 20th. We have been working harder than we could have imagined to pull this off,” said David W. Shelton, chairman of Clarksville Pride. “Last year’s festival was just a warm up. This year’s (Pride) festivities are for the history books.”

When asked why the decision was made to have the majority of drag performers on Friday’s pageant, Shelton said, “I grew up knowing that Clarksville was the Queen City. We felt like we needed to live up to the name. What better way than to have one of the greatest drag pageants around?”

The Mr. & Miss Clarksville Pride drag pageant is hosted by Clarksville’s own Scarlett Redd and will feature talent from throughout the state. “There are slots for seven contestants,” said Jonathan Miller, technical director of the pageant. “And there will be plenty of surprises as well!”

The pageant will be held in the main auditorium of the Mass Communication Building at Austin Peay State University. Advance tickets are available online for $8 at the Web site at www.clarksvillepride.com/events.html and are $10 at the door. “This is a top-ten venue,” Miller said.

Judges will be people experienced in the field and are “top secret.” Miller added, “I don’t even know who they are.” He pointed out that Scarlett Redd, the pageant coordinator, is the only person who knows.

Those wishing to compete can contact Jonathan Miller at radio@clarksvillepride.com. Contestants will compete for cash and prizes. Winners will also have an opportunity to perform on the Main Stage at the Pride Festival on the 20th.

The Pride Festival itself, presented by Dr. Constance Johnson and the Headache Care Center, will be held at the Clarksville Fairgrounds. Featured speakers will include author and radio show host Michelangelo Signorile from Sirius OutQ106 and Nashville’s own showgirl legend, Calpernia Addams. Both speakers are expected to share from their vast experience in working to promote GLBT equality across the country.

“We wanted to bring people in that represent the vast diversity of the GLBT community in Clarksville and across the country,” Shelton said. “Signorile is known across the world for his heavy and often controversial activism work in the last twenty years. We invited him because of his respected work and that he’s a credible voice for the community.”

Shelton continued, “Calpernia’s history in Nashville and Clarksville give her presence here a very special meaning.” He also pointed out that her work has gone so far beyond the tragic events in 1998 that she has become “a prime example of what it means to be a survivor.” She recently served as primary consultant to Felicity Huffman for her Academy Award-nominated role in Transamerica.

Both celebrities will set aside time to sign books and movies after their presentations.

Shelton said that Amanda Leigh, who was once called “The mother of all Clarksville drag queens” by committee member Don Davidson, will also make an appearance on the Pride festival stage. “We invited her to tell her story. She’s as much a representative of Clarksville’s GLBT history and heritage as anyone.” He added, “Pride is as much about honoring our history as it is about standing up for our future.”

The festival will also feature an exhibition from the Smokey Mountain Rodeo Association, who will demonstrate horseback riding in the open-air arena adjacent to the Fairgrounds Pavilion. There will also be an expanded children’s area, dozens of information and merchant booths, and food vendors, including Borders Books & Music. Beer will also be available, courtesy of Budweiser of Clarksville. The Clarksville Pride Festival is scheduled to run from 11:00 to 5:00.

While admission to the festival itself is free, organizers are asking that attendees bring a canned good product to benefit charity. “Admission is a can,” Shelton said. “We can use this to give back to our neighbors.”

Musicians include Jade Esteban Estrada, Shawn Thomas, Jeff Miller, Cheley Tackett. Wall of Jules and Jenny Madison, percussionist Cathey Stamps, and Tim Toonen. Some artists will appear on the main stage, while others will appear courtesy of Church Street Freedom Press. DJ Jane Dupree will spin tunes when the stage is not occupied.

Anyone who would like to volunteer, sponsor, or otherwise donate to the effort is urged to contact festival organizers or chairman David W. Shelton at chairman@clarksvillepride.com. Donations can be made on the website as well.

For more information and biographies of the headliners, please see the Clarksville Pride website at www.clarksvillepride.com.