HICKORY, N.C. — An LGBT Pride event scheduled for this weekend at the city’s Crawdad Stadium was nearly cancelled at the last minute as organizers were forced to find a new location after deals with the city-owned venue fell through, The Associated Press and several news organizations are reporting.
According to The Hickory Daily Record, Catawba Valley Pride had signed a contract with the stadium for their event this weekend. The festival, including entertainment and several vendors, was to be held on Oct. 1. But the Crawdad contract with the city only gave the stadium authority for events through Sept. 30, after which all non-sporting events must receive approval from the Hickory City Council.
Catawba Valley Pride organizers said they were never made aware of the city approval process until Tuesday, after the stadium’s general manager had contacted the city to inquire about police protection in the face of expected protesters on Saturday.
City officials say they did not receive prior notice of the event.
“I found out (Tuesday) they had three upcoming events out there and one was for Saturday,” Hickory City Manager Mick Berry told The Hickory Daily Record. “The contract specifically says the events have to be approved by Council. If this came to us a month ago, we could have approved it.”
Pride organizers say they hold no ill-will against the city and will simply work to ensure the event can go on as planned at a new venue.
“We don’t think we’re being picked on, there’s just a loophole and someone’s dropped the ball,” Catawba Valley Pride President Christy Austin told the Hickory paper. “We’re at the point right now where we’re trying to make our event as successful at a new location as it would have been there. We have 800 people coming in from as far as Virginia and Raleigh. This was an untimely error.”
The event will now be held at Unifour Christian Church in Newton, N.C. The Catawba Valley Board issued a statement on Wednesday evening and said they were pushing forward with the event.
“Despite the setback of having to change locations within a very short timeframe, the board and dedicated volunteers are working hard to make the transition as smooth as possible,” the statement said. “At this time, the priority of Catawba Valley Pride is to ensure a safe and enjoyable event that affirms the lives of lesbian, gay , bisexual, transsexual, transgender, two-spirited people and their supporters.”
The group added, “After the Pride Celebration, the Board will look into the facts that lead to the change in venue.”