Ann Arbor celebrates annual pride festival

Monday, August 6, 2018 - 11:16pm

Visitors walk through the exhibitor area during Ann Arbor Pride in downtown Ann Arbor Saturday.

Visitors walk through the exhibitor area during Ann Arbor Pride in downtown Ann Arbor Saturday. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Facebook, Jim Toy Community Center

Ann Arbor Pride, the city’s annual pride festival, returned to Kerrytown last weekend with a packed schedule of performances, workshops and activities for all ages in support of the LGBTQ community.

The 24th anniversary of the celebration, formerly known as OUTFest, was hosted by the Jim Toy Community Center, which serves the LGTBQ communities of Washtenaw County through social events, advocacy and education. Jim Toy, the center’s namesake, is a lifelong advocate for the safety and support of people of all gender and sexual preferences. According to the center’s website, Toy became the first publicly “out” man in Michigan in 1970.

Many local companies sponsored the festival, helping blend the community with the events and entertainment. Festival Director Leo Cartier Jr. said the schedule clearly showed a well-rounded group of supporters and attendees, ranging from the performers to the patrons.

"It has its own unique mix of entertainment and attendees and supporters, and the community really comes together to support Ann Arbor Pride," Cartier said. "Just looking at the supporters and sponsors, you’ll see a ton of local companies and organizations who want to be involved and support the Jim Toy Community Center and Ann Arbor Pride. That makes our community special."

The festival schedule was made with attention to families and children and included a Kid Zone offering activities like face-painting and a drag queen story time.

The weekend kicked off Friday night at Necto Nightclub with a pre-party featuring a performance by rapper Cupcakke.

Attendees could enjoy a full day of events Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with activities ranging from yoga and exhibit booths to a silent auction and drag review. Performances from dance groups, singers and poets filled the day while the Braun Court lot featured a beer and wine garden. Brian Justin Crum, a San Diego singer, actor and former “America’s Got Talent” competitor, took to the main stage at 8 p.m. as the headliner for the festival. An after-party with music from DJ Eddie and a drag show at Aut Bar’s Courtyard followed Crum’s performance.

On Sunday, attendees could relax at the annual Pride Picnic in Wheeler Park, which included a bounce castle and bratwursts from the Wurst Bar.

The pride festival was made possible with the help of sponsors, volunteers, community partners and vendors in addition to the Jim Toy Community Center and its Pride Committee. Proceeds went toward the Jim Toy Community Center.