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COLUMBIA — With attendance estimates ranging anywhere from 4,000-6,000, South Carolina’s annual Pride festival in downtown Columbia went off without a hitch, Saturday, Sept. 20.
As thousands of revelers gathered in the city’s Finlay Park, sparse opposition from protesters failed to create controversy or put a damper on a day filled with color, sunshine and fun.
Drag superstar RuPaul headlined the event. Other performers included singer-songwriter Richard Cortez, who will make an appearance for Pride Charlotte at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center in November. Singing duo Change Due and comedienne Jinx Kelly also appeared. The stage was emceed by longtime activists Bruce Converse and Tony Snell.
Pride organizers hailed the event as their largest ever. Over 85 vendors attended the festival. The City of Columbia sponsored the event. Other sponsors included radio station WXRY 99.3 FM, Club Fusion, ID Lubricants, Embassy Suites, P.T.’s Cabaret, The Free Times, Q-Notes, and the Nickelodeon Theatre.
The night before the festival, SC Pride awarded more than 20 individuals and organizations for their advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community. Those honored included Community Partner of the Year, the City of Columbia; Harriett Hancock Volunteers of the Year, Bruce Converse and the Rev. Candace Chellew-Hidge; Ryan Wilson Equality Award honoree David Collier; Unsung Hero honoree Jennifer Tague and Straight But Not Narrow awardee Tommy Gordon, a high school student. Q-Notes‘ Editor Matt Comer and Columbia writer Gareth Fenley received the organization’s Ed Madden Media Advocacy Award.