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Pride Festival to start off with mayoral proclamation

By Amanda Raymond
amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY —  Salisbury Pride is hosting its sixth annual Pride Festival with a concert on Friday and a festival on Saturday. After four years of being declined, the festival will start out with a mayoral proclamation that proclaims June 25, 2016, as Salisbury Pride Day, read by Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell.

Although former Mayor Paul Woodson and last year’s council members issued a welcome letter for last year’s Pride Festival, Woodson declined to issue an official proclamation while he was in office from 2011 to 2015. He cited a policy of not issuing proclamations regarding matters of controversy as his reasoning behind not giving Salisbury Pride a proclamation.

Former Mayor Susan Kluttz, the mayor before Woodson, did issue a proclamation for Salisbury Pride Day in 2011.

Mayor Karen Alexander proclaimed June 25, 2016, as Salisbury Pride Day at the City Council meeting on May 17.

She previously said she issued the proclamation because of all the good the organization does in the community, including providing scholarships, supporting anti-bullying campaigns and volunteering with organizations like Faithful Friends, ARC Festival of Trees and Toys for Tots.

Salisbury Pride was also awarded the Trailblazer Award by the North Carolina Human Right’s Campaign in 2014 to honor its work to create safe and inclusive communities.

“The proclamation says we are no different than any other organization here in Salisbury,” Salisbury Pride President Tamara Sheffield said.

She said the proclamation validates all citizens of Salisbury and will portray the city as welcoming to all people.

“I think it’s a good step towards embracing the human community,” Sheffield said.

Local artists, vendors and and performers will be at the event.

Country music singer and LGBT activist Chely Wright will headline the event with a concert of Friday at Nashville Nights. She will also perform a set at the festival on Saturday.

Wright is known for hits like “Shut Up and Drive,” “Single White Female” and “The Bumper of My S.U.V.” She also came out as gay in 2010 and became the first openly gay country star, according to biography.com.

Salisbury-Rowan PFLAG, an organization that advocates for equality, will also be presenting scholarships to local Rowan-Salisbury School students.

In light of the recent shooting in Orlando, Salisbury Pride has doubled its peacekeepers, civilians who have been trained for security purposes. Sheffield also said the organization has a great partnership with the Salisbury Police Department and feels confident in the officers’ abilities.

The doors for Friday’s concert will open at 8 p.m. at Nashville Nights at 127 E. Innes St. General admission tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. Wright will be on stage at 9 p.m.

To purchase advance tickets, visit http://www.salisburypride.com/chely-wright-2016.html.

The Pride Festival on Saturday will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the parking lot at the intersection of East Fisher and South Lee streets.

Delighted Tobehere and Jamie Monroe will be the mistresses of ceremonies. Other entertainers include Blazin Blues Rob, Riot and Raxor, Lee Street theatre’s 10-Minute Play Festival, Patti O’Furniture, Cierra Nichole, MACXIMUS and Cinnamen.

“We’re hoping to have a great event as always,” Sheffield said.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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