Pride Festival going strong after 35 years

Frand Rapids Pride Festival 2022. Photo courtesy of Isabel Dowell.

The 35th Annual Grand Rapids Pride Festival will take over Calder Plaza on June 17 from noon-10 p.m. Last year, over 25,000 guests came through to celebrate and take part in the festivities. Jazz McKinney, the executive director of the Grand Rapids Pride Center, gives you a sneak peek of what you can see at the fest this year.

“We’ll have live entertainment throughout the day; drag shows will be part of that. I’m hoping to have a band, a hip-hop artist, an R&B artist, comedy and spoken word. We’ll also have a family fun zone, an area that’s for 18 and under. We have a variety of food trucks that’ll be there, we’ll have a beer garden with different varieties of beer and spirits.

“We need a day to celebrate being proud of who we are – being joyful. Everything is so depressing. We know that folks are still being killed. We know folks are protesting, and we still have a lot to be proud of. The fact that they’re scared of us is why we should be proud. Just like the fact that they feel like they have to organize to try to keep us down. It means we’re doing something good because that means they are paying attention to us and recognizing that we’re here and we’re going to be here.”

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Ever since Pasha Shipp could talk, she's been dreaming up colorful stories. Fantasy creatures, mysterious kingdoms, enchanted forests, you name it. As she reached adulthood, she decided to take the magic out of her head and put it down on paper. Pasha has been writing for Grand Rapids Magazine since November 2015, and has loved every minute of it. She has a master's degree in Communication and a bachelor's degree in Film Studies from Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University respectively. When she isn't daydreaming and writing stories for the magazine, she's exploring the many hidden treasures of Grand Rapids with her fiancé.