Community members peruse vendors in front of the LGBT Community Center stage at 4th & S. Tryon Sts. Photo Credit: Jimmie Cobb/JCdigitalPHOTGRAPHYworks

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CHARLOTTE — Organizers of the annual Pride Charlotte Festival say they experienced record growth over past events at their festival this year, Aug. 25-26.

A project of The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, Pride is the group’s largest fundraiser of the year. The activities this year didn’t disappoint. No firm numbers on the funds raised have yet to be released, but organizers did say they estimated their crowd to be as many as 45,000 over the course of their newly-expanded, two-day festival.

In addition to the new second day, organizers also increased hours on Saturday, bringing in mainstream Hip Hop recording artist Trina as their headliner for an evening concert attended by thousands. Other entertainers included dance/club singer Erika Jayne and members of the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” cast including Chad Michaels, Jiggly Caliente and DiDa Ritz. Local and regional performers also took the stage, emceed by this year’s official hostess, Roxy C. Moorecox.

This year’s overwhelming success and expansion comes after several years of sustained growth since Pride’s creation under the auspices of the LGBT Community Center in 2006. For several years, the event was held at Gateway Village on the edge of Uptown Charlotte near Johnson & Wales University. In 2010, a slightly smaller event was held at the NC Music Factory. Last year, organizers decided to up the ante and moved the festival to S. Tryon St., where other festival’s like the St. Patrick’s Day celebration are held. Last year’s Pride Charlotte attracted 25,000 during its one-day activity.

Vendors were also more diverse this year, with an array of top sponsors like Wells Fargo, Time Warner Cable, Monkey Joe’s/Flying Biscuit and 7-Eleven’s Slurpee, in addition to community groups, LGBT-affirming churches and small businesses. Organizers said vendors grew this year to 150, up from around 100 in 2011.

Organizers also said they were pleased with the dates they chose. Pride had long been hosted in August, a tradition they continued last year. They kept the dates the same for this year’s festival, cognizant of the weekend’s close proximity to the Democratic National Convention. This year’s theme, “Out of Many, One,” reflected their commitment to unity, diversity and strength.

Firmer fundraising numbers are expected to be released soon. Stay to tuned to qnotes for more.

[Ed. Note — qnotes was a sponsor of this year’s Pride Charlotte Festival and this writer served on its organizing committee.]

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.