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|Augusta Pride returns with expanded events|
|by Jim Farmer|
|June 08, 2012 00:00|
Augusta Pride organizers expect the third annual celebration to set attendance records with an expanded schedule that features several new events in addition to the hallmark parade and festival.
Travis Jenkins, who serves as the Augusta Pride president, has been with the group since its inception and was nominated to lead the 2012 event after working his way up from being the Pride vendor coordinator. A grant from the Augusta Convention and Vistors Bureau has allowed Augusta Pride to do more advertising, including placing banners throughout the city, and beef up the number of days involved.
The long weekend of Pride kicks off Thursday, June 21, with the VIP party/President’s Soiree at the Landmark Marion Hatcher House. Friday, June 22, is the kickoff party, with a Pride cabaret featuring drag performers at Club Argos and Augusta’s lesbian band She N She performing at The Filling Station bar.
Saturday is the main event, with the parade beginning at 10 a.m. followed by the festival until 6 p.m. at the Augusta Commons area. Headliners include Tom Goss, Josh Zuckerman, Dee Hemingway and She N She.
The Augusta RoadHouse after-party follows Saturday night at The Filling Station with Goss, Zuckerman and Hemingway. Finally, a pool party and a church service will close the weekend on Sunday, June 24.
The first year’s Pride netted about 4,000 attendees and that number nearly doubled in 2011. Jenkins’ goal is to hit 10,000 visitors this year.
This year’s theme is “It’s Time.”
“That refers to it being time to be unified, time to put up gay artists in front of the community,” Jenkins said.
The city of Augusta has been extremely helpful in launching the city’s Pride event, he said. There were some hiccups originally, with some protests the first year and a short wait for an official proclamation.
“The mayor said he needed some advice to sign the proclamation, but gave us a proclamation a few months later,” Jenkins said. This year has been all smooth sailing.
Most visitors are from areas in a 100-mile radius, such as Atlanta, Columbus and Savannah. Jenkins feels both Atlanta Pride and Augusta Pride are great events but have their own individuality.
“Obviously we are more conservative and rural,” he said. “We are a fraction of their size. The community really pulls together by coming out and supporting us all year long and donating their hard earned money.
“When the parade starts on Saturday morning you will see tears of joy streaming down the faces of the crowd,” Jenkins added. “It’s not just the pride in being able to be who you are, it’s also the pride of the community being able to come together to make Augusta Pride possible.”
Top photo: Last year’s Augusta Pride Festival brought nearly 8,000 visitors and more are expected this year. (by Laura Douglas-Brown)
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