• 45°

Salisbury Pride: Downtown festival a ‘family friendly’ event

More Photos

By Shavonne Walker
shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Vonda Jenkins-Kimrey, along with her wife Carla, and their daughter Carlee Jo, 2, were all smiles as they greeted friends while walking together at this year’s Salisbury Pride event. The couple, who were one of Rowan County’s first same-sex couples to obtain a marriage license, have been part of the Pride event for years.

The Kimreys always have a good time at the “family-friendly” event, they said.

This year marks the seventh year for the annual Salisbury Pride event, which was held Saturday between Lee and Fisher streets.

Vonda said she felt as though the entertainers are what set the Salisbury Pride apart. The entertainment is why many the people attend.

“That’s one of the biggest draws,” she said.

Some of the most colorful hair, makeup, and clothing was worn during Saturday’s Salisbury Pride event, which in a way became an expression of the kind of colorful event. Friends Haiden Mathis, along with her sister Rose Hulce, best friend Sydney Mitchem and their friend Camdyn Ballard wore colorful hair, T-shirts and makeup.

Hulce said she dyed her hair turquoise because she wanted to be out there with her look and included rainbow-colored lipstick. The teens said they felt free at the event.

“People don’t have to hide,” Mitchem said.

Of the protestors and naysayers, Hulce said, “people who are against us should know we’re not going to be broken down.”

There were dozens of performers from as far as New York and Las Vegas and as locally as Salisbury and Charlotte who took to the main stage that bordered Fisher and Lee streets and dance stage on Fisher Street.

Cierra Nichole was one of those local entertainers who performed during Saturday’s event on both the main and dance stage. Nichole, a drag performer whose real name is Tony Land, was born and raised in Salisbury.

Nichole has performed at the event for five years and has served on the Salisbury Pride board for the last two years. Nichole, who lives as a male, said he didn’t identify as being gay until he was 20.

“I felt there was no place for me but in bigger cities like Winston and Charlotte,” he said.

It was an eye-opening experience that he said it’s not just about being LGBT, but it’s about “coming together and having some fun,” he said.

He’s at home at the event where he can “come out to see people and enjoy the festivities and have a good time.”

Cierra Nichole is a former Miss Charlotte Pride and reigning Miss South Carolina Black Pride.

The down-to-earth atmosphere makes it easy to interact with the audience, Nichole said.

“This feels like home,” he said.

He encouraged everyone to put aside their preconceived notions of what the Salisbury Pride is about and just know it “is made for family fun.”

“Our job is to let people forget the problems they have at home and enjoy being in the moment,” Nichole said.

Kourtinee Pope-Kollins, the reigning Miss Charlotte Latin Pride, was on hand to not perform, but support the event in general. Pope-Kollins was stopped numerous times by some people at the event to pose for pictures. Pope-Kollins wore a humongous crown that was jokingly referred to as weighing about five pounds.

There were 101 vendors with people from all over the southeast, organizers said, more than three times the amount of the first year. The event’s first year was in 2011 and there were 30 booths.

The event seemed to not be without its share of protestors shouting at passersby and carrying signs. Pride event volunteers were scattered throughout the area wearing their rainbow tie-dyed shirts with the words peace keepers on the back. There was one minor incident where an event goer and protestor exchanged angry words and got very close into each other’s faces. The two were quickly separated by event volunteers and Salisbury Police.

“They have a right to be here too,” event volunteer Leslie Cataldo could be heard telling the event goer and carefully patting him on the shoulder.

Salisbury Police officers walked throughout the event as did event volunteers making sure everyone was safe. This year was the first time the police department had a recruiting booth at the event.

This year’s award recipients were Margaret Almeida and Steve and Lina Drinkard. Almeida received the Ralph Ketner Ally award for outstanding community leadership. She moderated the Trans Forum this past year. She is currently a pastor at Second Presbyterian Church in Salisbury. Previous winners have been Ralph Ketner, the Cataldo family, Ashley Jo Farmer, William Stanback, Mike Clawson and Sue Day Whitley.

The Drinkards received the Salisbury Pride Volunteer award for their work and support for the last five years. Past award recipients were Andy Linker, Amy Smith, Julia Thomason, Rachel Carden & Trisha Merkwa, Bob Lambrecht & Jon Planovsky, as well as Lynn Jacek and Athena Moore.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

Comments

Crime

Two more charged for operating illegal gambling businesses

Education

A.L. Brown celebrates seniors with signing day

Business

Rebounding, but not recovered: Rowan County tourism begins challenging path toward normalcy

High School

High school baseball: Padgett leads Mustangs; 100th win for West coach Graham

Coronavirus

RSS superintendent, Board of Health discuss strategies for increasing student vaccination rates

Nation/World

Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

News

Lawyers: Black man didn’t drive into deputies who shot him

Nation/World

Liz Cheney says Trump and GOP backers threaten democracy

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department clarifies county’s COVID-19 death total is 301

Landis

Landis approves new land development ordinance, zoning map

Landis

Landis approves body camera, stun gun purchase for public safety officers

Crime

One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business