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COVID-19 prompts Salisbury Pride to cancel 2020 festival

SALISBURY — The annual Salisbury Pride Festival will have to wait until 2021 for its 10th edition.

Salisbury Pride says its board of directors voted unanimously to cancel the 2020 festival because of the continuing impact of COVID-19. The festival has annually attracted crowds of people to enjoy music, entertainment, vendors and an event that celebrates diversity and the local LGBTQ community. This year’s festival had been scheduled for June 27.

Salisbury Pride Vice President Becky Lane said cancelling this year’s festival was the responsible thing to do.

“It is unfortunate that we have to cancel, but we look forward to celebrating our 10th festival in June 2021,” Lane said in a news release.

Instead of an in-person festival, Salisbury Pride will have an online fundraiser for the Rowan County United Way’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. It will be streamed live on the group’s Facebook page starting at 8:30 p.m. on May 15. Lane said the event will include a full schedule of entertainment, including some festival favorites.

“Our priority is the health and safety of our supporters, volunteers, city police and fire personnel, and the thousands of people who attend the event,” said Salisbury Pride President Tim Coffey in a news release. “We are proud of our community for rallying together in this time of need to support those most affected by the coronavirus.” 

Coffey said the Salisbury Pride board was pleased that performers are willing to come together to help with the virtual festival.

“We invite the larger community to also tune-in for a fun evening to help raise money for those in need,” Coffey said.

And, while there won’t be an in-person festival, Mayor Karen Alexander said she plans to issue a proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month.

“The city council and City of Salisbury support Salisbury Pride’s decision to cancel the Pride Festival this year and instead do an online fundraiser to benefit the COVID-19 Relief Fund,” said Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander. “Thank you for all the ways Salisbury Pride supports the needs of our community.”

The Pride Month Art Show at Center for Faith and the Arts, scheduled for June, will be postponed until later in the year.

“Pride is 365 days a year, a celebration of love and diversity, as well as a way of honoring the ongoing struggle for equal rights for all people,” Lane said. “We are working on ways to continue our mission, virtually, of course, and to continue to offer education, support, and entertainment during this difficult time.”

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