Photos and Story by Enrique Geronimo/Contributing Writer
This year marked Murfreesboro’s fourth annual Pride Fest on the Square. Saturday’s festival featured a variety of activities, food and refreshment trucks and a sense of community welcoming to all people.
Music and crowds of people could be heard resonating around the square from approximately 5:00-10:00 P.M. As you walked through an entrance archway comprised of balloons of all colors and sizes you also saw people laughing, hugging and having a great time. There were several tents featuring local art, clothing, snacks, information, hugs and high-fives. There was an environment of love and acceptance in the air that radiated through the attendees of the festival.
Cutting through the good times were loud and angry men behind megaphones protesting the festival, but festival goers retaliated with cheers and jokes from a distance. Behind a few people giving high-fives, in between the crowd and the protestors, there were a few officers standing guard to assure nothing occurred. A man who did not want to be named said, “I thought religion was supposed to be about forgiveness and inclusion.” Eventually, most people walked away or turned their backs to the protestors to avoid giving them the attention they were seeking.
As you walked further there was a large line of people giving out hugs, two of them being a couple who have attended every Pride Fest in Murfreesboro: Dole McVeigh and his wife Nichole, who is on the committee involved with organizing the festival.
“We started giving out free hugs because we saw the need in the community for kids and other people who don’t get support from their friends and family,” said Dole.
The stage was placed near the entrance and was lit with the colors of the LGBTQ flag. This is where most of the crowd would remain as several different musical acts preformed. Bands such as: Flummox, Sisters Mann, The Hardin Draw and The Dead Deads took to the stage and kept the energy up throughout the entire event while crowds of people danced along during the night.
Some of the food and refreshments available were Franklin’s Fruit Tea, Creative Culinary Creations and a General Mills tent handing out Lucky Charms and Fruit by the Foot.
Other tents featured information about sexual health/safety, political candidates, photo booths and local businesses. All tents and businesses shared the same message of support for members of the LGBTQ community.
Overall, the festival was a success and a few people voiced their excitement about next year’s festival which will not only be Murfreesboro’s fifth, but will mark 50 years since New York held their first pride parade following the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The festival will undoubtedly continue to grow.
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