Readers Respond: Keep Nashville’s Pride Festival on Saturday

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Out & About Newspaper asked our readers about changing the day the Nashville Pride Festival will be held – from the traditional Saturday to a Sunday (see related story). If you have an opinion on the change of day for the festival, you can write Nashville Pride at info@nashvillepride.org.

An online poll conducted by O&AN between Jan. 5, and Jan. 12, showed that O&AN readers overwhelming wanted the festival held on a Saturday. Some 57 percent said they preferred a Saturday-only festival, while 37 percent said they’d like to see the festival held over two days  – Saturday and Sunday. Only seven percent said they wanted to see a Sunday-only festival.

Here are some of the responses from our readers:

Brenda Eckhart said she feared the move would drop attendance saying, "I do not like the idea of changing from Saturday to Sunday! In my opinion, this will just decrease the attendance of the festival.  I would be more likely to attend the festival on Saturday vs. Sunday. 

Mark Hubbard wrote in saying he’d love to see the festival stay on Saturday, but that he’d support any decision.

"I would prefer a Saturday Pride festival," Hubbard wrote. "Based on my experience as part of pride early in the decade
and experience as an exhibitor at pride and other events, I would predict attendance will be significantly reduced.  A Sunday event will force a choice for many between faith and pride.  Remember, many, many attendees arrive as early as 10 a.m. Of course, I will support pride either day since even a reduced opportunity to reach the community is valuable.

Andrea Garrett wrote in saying, "personally, it doesn’t matter to me what day you put it on. I will either attend or not attend based on my schedule. But, I know people like to have a good time and make a big day out of it and drink and party etc. and would probably rather the festival stay on Saturday so that they might use Sunday as a chance to recover and rest before their work week started. If I were a drinker, I definitely would prefer Saturday. People traveling in might also need Sunday as a day to travel back to their homes. Besides, you know the expression, "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it." I’m sure you have your reasons for contemplating the change, but from where I stand it looks like it’s doing just fine on Saturday."

Dave Henricks was one of the few of our readers who wanted the festival moved to Sunday. He wrote to say, "I would prefer the day for the Pride Festival be changed to Sunday. I KNOW of many who didn’t attend last year ’cause it was on Saturday. That seems to be a ‘take care of business’ day for many who work during the week."

Chris Brooks
said, "Sunday is when I attend church, and I relax between services, I would be much more likely to attend if the festival remained on Saturday."

T. Markman said, “I feel having the parade on Saturday is better, most people are off on weekends and that gives them the chance to sleep in on Sunday. Also some people go to church on Sundays.”

Brian Johnston and Donnie Christian wrote in to say that they “know of numerous people that fly/drive in either Friday or Saturday morning to attend the festival and then have Sunday to get home. Moving the festival to Sunday would make it difficult for people to get back home Sunday evening for work on Monday. It would also decrease income into the community by basically shortening what is now a weekend event.

Another issue would be the churches that have booths at the Festival. Most would probably not participate if the festival is held on Sunday. Also, I know our business (Brian D Johnston, LMT), due to church related obligations, would not be able to participate if festival was held on Sunday.

Jason Hunt echoed those concerns saying, “I have several friends who come in from out of town for the Festival. Changing it to Sunday would negatively affect their chances of coming.”

Cole Wakefield was blunt in his response saying, “I think it’s a stupid idea, but that is just me.”

Ron Snitker wrote in to say, “Keep the Nashville Pride Festival on a Saturday and create continuity by having it on the same Saturday every year (e.g. first Saturday in June). [Editor’s note: The Pride Festival has been held on the first Saturday in June for several years.] It deters out of town visitors from coming. They would have to take Monday off from work. Part of the fun of Pride is being able to let loose and celebrate.  Having it on Sunday would dampen the “after” Pride parties. Saturday has more retail open to support people coming in to town and current residents e.g. restaurants, shopping, etc.

A reader from the Knoxville area, Ruth Holloway who lives in Maryville, Tenn. wrote in saying, “I would love to come to the Nashville Festival this coming year.  I might even be able to gather some others to come along.  I don’t know how many out of town people you expect to visit/travel there for the festival.  However, for me, due to so many circumstances, travel / distance considerations, I would prefer it to be on a Saturday. That way, I would be able to come into Nashville on the Friday evening before, get a place to stay and possibly visit around.  Then, I would be able to enjoy the Festival on its own on Saturday – stay over to rest up and then travel back home on Sunday. (It takes me about three-and-half to four hours driving time).  I would more likely visit Nashville’s Pride Festival if it were on Saturday because Sunday would make it harder for me physically and travel-wise.

Mattie wrote in saying that she “prefer the Festival be on Saturday, so as to not interrupt traditional church activities on Sunday.”

Michael Neeley said that he has seen “in the other cities in which I have lived or visited during Pride (Atlanta, LA, San Francisco, NYC, Chicago, Washington DC, Dallas) they all held there festival on Saturday and Sunday with the parade and festival area being the highlight of Sunday, followed by a tea dance or a Closing Party. 

In other towns, smaller towns like Nashville, Seattle, Phoenix, Minneapolis/St. Paul, the festival and parade were on Saturday.  This could be due to budgets being small, since the larger cities had much more paid entertainment, thus needing to stretch it out over a two day period.  There would be more participants in larger cities also opposed to limited participation in smaller towns.  If the parade and festival were on Sunday the club owners and managers would probably squawk that there Saturday night business would suffer.  I never saw that to be the case in those cities that had the parade and festival on Sunday…it just usually means some longer hours for those participating.  It was my experience that the bars would be competing for business on Saturday night or the Pride committee put on a huge party (which MADE money).  The people turned out in full force partying into the wee hours of the morning.  Then a bit of sleep, an early brunch, and on to the parade around 10:30 a.m.  I have never heard anyone complain about having too much fun!”

Michael wrote in to say, “the concept to move Pride from Saturday to Sunday is ridiculous. The event has really gone down in past years and this might be the final nail.”

Van expressed concern that the change would interfere with worship services, adding “one of the events that the Pride Committee has routinely sponsored for years is the Spirituality Forum on the Wednesday night of Pride. Considering that the auditorium at the Blair School is always a capacity or a standing-room-only crowd, there are obviously many spiritual people in our LGBT community and I know that a very minimal number of members of my predominantly LGBT church attend this event. Given this presence in our community, it doesn’t make sense to move the Pride festival to Sunday.  I know there are a large number of churches and spiritual organizations that sponsor a tent in the festival that would have to be set up and manned prior to the festival kick off times.  On a Sunday, that will interfere with most of these groups worship services.  That not only will cause issues with their booths but with potential attendance of the festival as well.  

Lastly, from a non-religious point, the festival lasts all day out in the hot sun and on some years into the early evening.  On a Sunday, the attendance is going to likely drop off sooner than on a Saturday particularly when you consider the distance many drive to be a part of this Middle Tennessee event and needing to get home to prepare for the work week. There is also the factor of the heat and exhaustion that can go along with that. With the event on Saturday, attendees who work a M-F work week have a good part of Sunday to recuperate before beginning their week again.  Overall it just doesn’t make much sense to move the event.”

G. New wrote in saying, “it would be a shame if the day of the Pride festival is changed from Saturday to Sunday. My partner and I attend each year and we have several friends that travel from out of town to attend. Sunday is too close to the beginning of the work week to have the festival. It is my opinion that attendance and dollars coming into the community from the festival will decrease due to the festival being held on Sunday. If the festival is changed to Sunday, I am not sure that we will be able to attend due to work schedules and travel restraints. I hope that it does not get changed.

Aisha Seay asked what the reason was behind the change saying, “I know several people that travel great distances to support the function and moving the date does add potential problems for them. Especially those with longer than a few hours drive. I love the set-up that has been established and turnout is great (depending upon the weather). Why is anyone wanting to change what is working, if there is no need to?

John Underwood questioned the move and asked about a two-day event saying, “a party on Sunday seems like an attempt to kill the event. How about a two-day festival?  Why go to all the effort for one day anyway. A Sunday event only seems to undermine the festival. Just my thoughts.

Vince Foster encouraged organizers to keep the festival on Saturday saying, “PRIDE ON SUNDAY? Why and who came up with this? Keep it on Saturday. With all the celebrations, we need Sunday to relax or travel back home before Monday, a work day! For the last several years Pride has been at its best, let’s not change that!

Amos Gott said he had not heard about the change, and that he had been told the festival would be “held on both Saturday and Sunday like they do in Atlanta.  Not saying I won’t attend, but that doesn’t make sense moving the festival from Saturday to Sunday.”

H.G. said, “I think that a move to Sunday would be detrimental to the attendance and success of Nashville Pride. That’s just my two cents worth.”

Kenneth Fowlkes said he probably wouldn’t attend a Sunday festival saying, “I have enjoyed the event for many years and will miss it if held on a Sunday.”