New entertainment, 4,000 people coming to Pride festival, organizers say

SALISBURY — As Salisbury Pride prepares to host its fourth annual diversity celebration Saturday, leaders say the organization wants to become even more involved in the community.

Salisbury Pride expects up to 4,000 people to attend the Pride event, set for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on West Fisher and South Lee streets. The festival will feature a variety of vendors and entertainment, including two performances by Latina comic Sandra Valls, who has appeared on ABC, HBO and LOGO, a TV channel aimed primarily at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Salisbury Pride has a history of commitment to the community, spokeswoman Beth Meadows said.

The Salisbury Pride bowling league at Woodleaf Lanes has had three successful seasons and plans another in the fall, she said. The organization is helping Paws in the Park raise money to build a dog park near the Salisbury Civic Center and maintains a presence at Friday Night Out and First Friday to support downtown retailers.

Meadows said the group also supports anti-bullying efforts and is working closely with the family of Daniel Safrit, an 11-year-old who committed suicide last year after his family said he was bullied.

The Salisbury-Rowan chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays awarded the second Salisbury Pride-Scotty Ray Gilbert Scholarship to a high school senior. Gilbert was a former Pride board member.

But Meadows said Pride wants to do more.

“We want to be included in even more community events and look forward to hearing from individuals, groups or retailers who will welcome our support,” she said. “We are a loyal group and encourage our family and friends to support those folks in the community who support us.”

With the tagline “small city, big pride,” the 2014 event aims to highlight progress in the city of Salisbury, said Tamara Sheffield, chairwoman for the Pride event.

Salisbury Pride wants to enhance Salisbury’s status as an historic city that provides a safe, livable environment with a focus on equality for all, Sheffield said.

“While there may be cities larger than Salisbury in our state, none has a bigger, more inclusive heart,” she said. “More people attend Salisbury Pride per capita than any other Pride event in the state.”

But Sheffield said Pride supporters also plan to focus attention and raise awareness of the need for the city to fulfill its mission statement, which includes “inclusion and diversity” as well as “fairness and equality.”

For the third year in a row, Mayor Paul Woodson turned down a request from Salisbury Pride to proclaim June 21 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Day. Former Mayor Susan Kluttz issued a proclamation for LGBT Pride Day in 2010, but Woodson has declined to do the same since he took the mayor’s office in 2011, saying the issue is too controversial to meet proclamation guidelines.

Salisbury Pride won the Human Rights Campaign 2014 Trailblazer Award for promoting visibility and increasing public support and education of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

This year’s Pride event will feature Salisbury’s gay and straight business community and non-profit organizations, as well as service agencies, civic groups and churches. The Campaign for Southern Equality will offer free legal services like health care power of attorney.

Vendors, businesses, civic and non-profit organizations can still register to set up booths at the event by going to .

The website will continue to update activities, entertainers and guest presenters scheduled to appear at the festival.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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