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PrideFest Celebrates 30 Years

Jun. 6, 2017
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Photo Credit: Mike Hiller

From June 9-11 Henry W. Maier Festival Park will host the 30th Milwaukee PrideFest. The festival has deep roots in Milwaukee, dating back to the late 1980s when the Milwaukee Lesbian/Gay Pride Committee hosted a weeklong celebration that included a formal ball and film festival.

PrideFest has come a long way since then. With stints at Juneau Park, then Veterans Park, it grew to add entertainment, food and, in 1995, become the first Pride event to host a fireworks display. It is now the largest LGBTQ festival with permanent festival grounds in the nation. To add to that, the entire festival is volunteer-run, without a single paid employee.

This year’s festival begins with opening ceremonies at the Milwaukee Dance Pavilion. LGBTQ activist Jim Obergefell, whose 2015 Supreme Court case made strides for marriage equality, will be the keynote speaker.

Speaking of the famous Dance Pavilion, this year’s headliners include Milwaukee DJ Chomper, the Grammy-nominated Chris Cox, and a special set from Joe Gauthreaux and DJ Grind, who are collaborating on a series of summer festivals under the name Gauthreaux & Grind. Other Milwaukee DJ’s such as DJ ROZZ and DJ HME will be spinning additional sets. The Dance Pavilion will also host drag shows hosted by Trannika Rex, Dixie Lynn Cartwright, B.J. Daniels and Chanel D’Vine.

This year’s music stage includes a number of notable local acts including: AUTOMatic, Abby Jeanne, NO/NO, Rio Turbo, The Fatty Acids, Tigernite and more. Comedian, actor, writer and internet celebrity Randy Rainbow will host the weekend’s festivities.

This year’s PrideFest main stage headliners are:

Friday, June 9: Betty Who: Sydney, Australia-born pop singer Betty Who will kick off the festival on June 9 at the Miller Mainstage. Her second studio album, The Valley, features the singles “Some Kinda Wonderful” and a cover of Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever.” Her upbeat, stadium-ready synth pop will be sure to get crowds dancing and set the festival off on the right foot.

Saturday, June 10: Steve Grand: Singer-songwriter Steve Grand will take the stage on Saturday night, returning to PrideFest after a headlining performance in 2014. Grand has built an impressive career channeling the resources available to him in the digital age. He had the #3 most funded music project in Kickstarter history for his debut album All-American Boy, and has amassed millions of YouTube views with his mostly self-funded music videos.

Saturday, June 10: 10,000 Maniacs: As a pioneer of alternative rock, 10,000 Maniacs has remained relevant throughout a three-decade career that has seen their musical styles vary and lineups change. With hits like “These Are Days” and “Candy Everybody Wants,” their performance is sure to get the nostalgia going.

Sunday, June 11: Todrick Hall: Since rising to prominence on the ninth season of “American Idol,” Todrick Hall has made his mark on platforms ranging from Broadway to “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and his own MTV docu-series “Todrick.” Coming off of his Broadway run as Lola in Kinky Boot, Hall will take his “Straight Outta Oz Tour” to PrideFest to close out the weekend.

Tickets are on sale now at pridefest.com/tickets

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