For the 13th year, Pride Fest will take over downtown Knoxville Saturday. Organizers are expecting the biggest group ever to be a part of the festival.
The day kicks off with a pride parade at 11 a.m. beginning on North Gay Street and will ultimately end at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. That’s where organizers say you’ll find more than 100 vendors, two stages for entertainment, food and multiple festivities for people of all ages and all backgrounds.
A lot of work goes into booking the entertainment, speakers and vendors. Organizers coordinated with city officials to plan parking and safety measures.
Knox Pride President Jennifer Green says the event isn’t just for the LGBTQ community, but for the supporters of diversity. It takes the support in order to move forward, she explained.
“Everybody’s welcome. We want the community to come. We want our allies to come. Bring your families. We’re going to have a kids area. It is not exclusive to just the LGBTQ community,” she said.
Organizers also predict the parade to be larger than in previous years. By Friday, more than 80 groups had signed up to be a part of the parade.
Sarah Michelle Miller, festival coordinator, says there will be something at the festival for everyone.
“The main thing is just getting every body together and celebrate our successes, bring resources to the LGBT community. They get to see different businesses that they may not have known were LGBT friendly and just have a good time together,” she said.
Miller invites anyone who wants to celebrate inclusion to follow the rainbow flags and have a good time.
“This is a festival that nobody every forgets. I recommend it to everybody,” she added.
Green says she’s thankful for the city’s support, as multiple departments have dedicated staff to keep participants safe Saturday.
“It’s a day of love. It’s a day of acceptance. It’s a day of come and be who you are. Everybody’s welcome,” Green added.
A spokesperson with Knoxville Fire and EMS says they’ve heard some groups plan to protest the Pride Fest. He says they’ve even heard of counterprotesters showing to denounce the protestors. Miller says it wouldn’t be Pride Fest is there weren’t protestors. They encourage anyone heading out to celebrate not to engage, because that energizes the opposition.
All festivities are free and open to the public. To see a list of rules and a schedule of events, click here.