Sept. 15 marks the date of the first annual TriPride parade and festival in Johnson City.
The event is part of a month-long effort by the members of TriPride’s board to get this event going and have it become an annual staple in Johnson City’s festival calendar. What started out as a small idea for an afternoon festival quickly enlarged from their original vision.
“There’s no way to know what we’ll get in terms of turnout, but we’ve been getting indications that 3,000-5,000 people are to be expected,” TriPride board member Chris Dagenhart said. “I think [Johnson City] had the impression that this was going to be a pretty small affair, and then when we started having meetings with them, I think they realized we were talking thousands of people.”
The parade begins at noon at the intersection of Commerce and North Roan Street and runs to Founders Park. It is expected to have over 400 people featured in it alone. However, the festival portion is where the bulk of attendees are expected to show.
The festival is slated to begin at the conclusion of the parade and continue until 6 p.m. and will feature beer from five different breweries, soft drinks from Gatorade and seven different food trucks. In addition to all of this, a plethora of vendors will be selling products and offering services related to the LGTB community and a health fair will provide free health screenings and STD testing.
For entertainment, there will be a children’s and family area, as well as a five-person live art competition featuring local artists. There will also be a stage featuring live music throughout the evening featuring local bands, such as Annabelle’s Curse of Bristol, Big Son of Elizabethton and Amythyst Kiah of Johnson City will be headlining. To end the night, there will also be a drag comedy show appropriate for all ages.
Although the parade and festival are the only officially hosted TriPride events on Saturday, there will be two after-party mixers following the end of the festival. According to a press release from TriPride, one will be hosted at The Willow Tree coffee shop in Johnson City from 7-10 p.m. and the other at New Beginnings night club from 8 p.m. until closing.
As with any festival hosted in the Tri-Cities, it’s important to keep tabs on the weather. Fortunately, TriPride has a plan should Mother Nature rain on their parade.
“If it does rain and we’re unable to use the great lawn in Founders Park, the festival will happen in the Pavilion adjacent to the park where the farmers market is held,” Dagenhart said.
Unfortunately, there are also anti-pride protesters expected to appear at the event.
“[Protesters] were never really a part of our planning, though our governing organization has always understood and expected them,” Dagenhart said. “We’re really just asking people to come and have a good time. If you run into or are confronted by protesters, simply walk away and don’t engage them.”
It is, however, important to note that the Johnson City Police Department will be on hand to ensure everyone is safe and that nothing escalates.
“I do want to pay tribute to the city of Johnson City and the JCPD for stepping up to make sure that everyone in attendance is kept safe and secure,” Dagenhart said.
Regardless of potential protests, TriPride expects a day full of fantastic activities and safety for all those in attendance. With an abundance of things to eat, drink and do, attendees shouldn’t have any issues keeping themselves occupied and having a great time at the inaugural TriPride festival and parade. For more information, visit the official website at tripridetn.org.