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PrideFest coming to downtown Salisbury this weekend

SALISBURY — The city’s third annual gay and lesbian pride event takes over part of downtown this weekend, with a six-hour festival Saturday flanked by pre- and post-Pride parties Friday and Saturday nights at downtown restaurants.
Dubbed PrideFest 2013, the event moves back into the street this year. Police would not allow organizers to use East Fisher Street last summer after dozens of protestors showed up for the inaugural Pride festival in 2011.
Last year’s event was held in a private parking lot, where police said they had more control to remove protestors.
Only eight protestors came, and the city in January agreed to allow PrideFest to return to East Fisher Street. The festival also will use adjacent parking lots on South Lee Street.
This year’s event will feature Salisbury’s gay and straight business community, non-profit organizations, civic groups and churches, as well as service agencies for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, organizers said.
Set to run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., PrideFest will include entertainment, food, vendors and exhibitors. About 2,000 people attended the event in 2011, with about 1,500 participants last year.
“We welcome everyone in and around Salisbury to join us in celebrating this year’s PrideFest 2013 and to help us focus attention and raise awareness of the need for our great city to fulfill its mission of providing and upholding ‘equality for all,’” said Tamara Sheffield, event co-chairwoman.
Organizers asked for official recognition earlier this year from Mayor Paul Woodson, arguing that PrideFest is no different from the city’s other celebrations of diversity, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and La Fiesta de Rowan. Woodson said he respectfully declined to proclaim Saturday as gay and lesbian Pride Day.
Gay and straight families, couples and singles are welcome to attend, chairman Brandon Major said.
Event sponsor Salisbury Pride Inc. is active throughout the year working to foster good human relations and supporting Salisbury’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning residents, Major said.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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