Community Foundation of Carroll County hosts Westminster Pride Festival Fund
On Saturday, July 7, downtown Westminster will host its first LGBTQ+ pride event, as the Westminster Pride Festival fills the 200 block of East Main Street between Church and Court Streets.
The free event will take place from noon to 5 p.m. with live music, vendors, children’s activities and a pet tent. The event is sponsored by local businesses including Penguin Random House, Birdie’s Cafe and MerMaids.
The Times recently caught up with one of the event organizers, Jason Garber, to learn more about this inaugural Westminster event.
Q: How did the idea for an LGBTQ+ pride event in Westminster first come about, and how did you first get involved?
A: Along with a local business and many allies, we have been able to make this vision a success. A group of local citizens decided the time was now and we have been moving forward with this vision as of the beginning of calendar year 2018. I came to be involved originally as the secretary. I was originally responsible for recording the minutes and keeping the committee members on track with their responsibilities.
Soon after the first meeting, I transitioned into running the meeting, forming an agenda for each meeting and delegating the responsibilities.
Q: While Baltimore will be celebrating its 43rd pride event this year, this will be the inaugural pride parade/festival in Westminster. Why did you and the other organizers feel this was the time to launch a new independent event in this community?
A: The time is now, we felt as a committee that it has been several years since Question 6 and the Federal recognition of marriage equality and we as a community should come together with our allies to celebrate. We need to do this. Westminster is long overdue for its first pride celebration of any kind.
We are doing this to show that the LGBTQ+ community does exist to those who feel rejected and shunned by those around them. We are doing this for those who fought throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s and do not believe that this great city is ready. We are doing this to show all those who have recently come to terms with their sexuality that they have a community they can lean on for support.
Q: What activities will take place? Is there a parade of sorts or purely a festival atmosphere?
A: To make this inaugural and historical event as successful as possible, we decided to stick with just a festival. Again, via our website, www.westminsterpride.org, the festival will take place between Court Street and Church Street on Main Street. We hope that in the future we will have the support and funds to have a parade with the festival.
There will be all types of vendors on display and activities to participate in. We have a full lineup of bands that will play the entire length of the festival out of Fletcher Funeral Home’s and Buckingham Auto’s parking lots. We wanted to make sure we supported the local community by offering vendor spots to local business, individuals and artists.
We are also proud to have nonprofits like LifeBridge Health, Rape Crisis and the Carroll County Health Department participating. There will be a Safe Zone Training for business owners, a kid’s corner and a pet tent. The list goes on and on. More information about the festival can be found on our website.
Q: I understand there is something of a fundraising component and talk of launching a scholarship program. Could you explain what the plans are there?
A: Early in the process we realized that to make this venture a success we needed the right organization to run all the financial contributions through. The Community Foundation of Carroll County proved to be that organization. Through them, we created their first LGBTQ+ fund “Westminster Pride Festival Fund.” We streamlined our vision for this historic event into the following mission statement, “The Westminster Pride Festival Fund exists to assure the success of a yearly festival that includes information, support, music, art, food and overall acceptance and solidarity within the LGBTQ+ community, their allies and the Carroll County community. The Westminster Pride Festival will create a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community to express themselves, increase visibility and foster respect for those who want to express their own sexual and gender identity. We endeavor to make this a yearly event that will ultimately lead to scholarships for the education of LGBTQ+ students.”
It is our hope that as this festival grows we can support various members and organizations that are either a part of the LGBTQ+ community or in support of it. We want people to know that a festival can have a greater impact and can be about more than just fun. This venture can have an everlasting impact on this town and this county. By eventually being able to support the education of tomorrows leaders, we can ensure the continued success, growth and longevity of this festival.
Source: Carroll County Times