WHAT: The two day event features live entertainment, a vendor market, a beer tent, concessions, workshops, tournaments, KidSpace and fun with family. In its 18th year, over 10,000 people are expected to attend. Pridefest celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, but is open to all.
WHEN: 7-midnight Friday; noon-midnight Saturday
WHERE: Headwaters Park, 330 S. Clinton St.
COST: $3 Friday, $5 Saturday. Those 12 and younger are free.
ETC.: To learn more about headliner Dario, go to www.darioonline.com.
With all the turmoil this year over gay marriage in Indiana — for a few short days gays could marry, then they couldn’t — one might expect this year’s Fort Wayne Pridefest to be a hotbed of political activity.
But Nikki Fultz, director of the festival that celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, hopes the annual event is free of political angst. “People will just be free to be themselves,” she said.
And it’s not just a party for the LGBT community. “We have over the years always had straight allies attending,” she said.
“It’s really more of a celebration,” she said. “We’ve never used it to speak out about issues.”
Organizers hope it will be a positive event. “We hope people would stay away if they don’t agree,” she said.
However, “we have noticed a lot more support for the LGBT community,” she said. “There’s a huge shift in attitude and acceptance of our community.”
The festival is in most ways just like the other events at Headwaters Park. There will be live entertainment, a beer tent, vendor market, concessions, cornhole tournaments and kids’ activities. A pride march starts at 11:30 a.m. in front of Headwaters Park and winds around downtown before coming back to the park.
The biggest draw, however, is the drag show 10 p.m.-midnight, a perennial favorite.
Pop singer Dario is the headliner, and appears on stage 9:15-9:45 p.m. Saturday, right before the drag show.
Speaking by phone, Dario, who is from Tuscon, Ariz. and currently on tour, said singing “is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.”
He started singing at age 3 and eventually earned a loyal following by winning local competitions and talent shows.
His music, a combination of rhythm and blues and pop, eventually earned him a following in the LGBT community. In the 10 years he’s been in the business, he’s recorded six albums, toured with Destiny’s Child, had two headlining tours and had a single, “Fallback,” get some radio play. Now people recognize him on the streets. One day he was in a grocery store and heard “Fallback” being played as someone’s ringtone.
After his current U.S. tour, Dario will go overseas to tour before heading home to L.A. for a while. He has nobody special in his life right now — says he doesn’t have time for a relationship.
Instead, he’d rather concentrate on his career. “I want longevity in this business,” he said.