The 2011 all-volunteer Pride Committee hosted the Santa Barbara Pacific Pride Festival this weekend at Leadbetter Beach to celebrate and support the LGBTQ community.
The event — organized by Pacific Pride Foundation staff and volunteers — was held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and highlighted the series of events scheduled during Pride Week. The festivities were headlined by singer-songwriter-actress Debbie Gibson and featured live bands, speakers and various merchandise and food booths from local vendors and organizations.
According to Pacific Pride Foundation’s Festival Chair Tyson Halseth, the festival catered to an audience in the thousands.
“It went really well, we were incredibly happy with it,” Halseth said. “A lot of people came up to us and said it was the best SB Pride Festival they had been to.”
Sue Lindsey, who volunteered with concessions with her daughter Adrian, said the fair went smoothly.
“It has been very festive, well maintained,” Lindsey said. “There’s a lot of communal energy, it is very positive and upbeat.”
The festival returned to Santa Barbara in 2007 at Chase Palm Park after a six-year gap due to the foundation’s lack of resources to host the event. The organization relocated the venue to Leadbetter Beach this year for the first time since the celebration’s local reincarnation.
Festivalgoer Krystal Keese said the location’s atmosphere fostered greater communal unity among participants and attendees.
“It is nice to have a manageable event,” Keese said. “It has a more intimate setting.”
Local vendors and national organizations ran booths at the event including Mystic Body Art and the Human Rights Campaign, respectively.
According to Tedd Lesch, HRC Board of Governors volunteer and Long Beach representative, the association used the opportunity to expand their support base.
“We know that the way we are going to grow is by reaching out to our grassroots and by going to more pride events,” Lesch said.
The organization plans to attend at least 177 pride events across the nation this year, Lesch said.
Additionally, several religious groups also participated in the festival. Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation Board of Trustees President Carrie Topliffe said she attended as a member of the “religious left” in support of the LGBTQ community.
“I love to see people out having a good time, dressed in such colorful ways and being comfortable being who they are in public,” Topliffe said.
The festival also featured various musical performances including Paramore tribute band Riot and local rockers RedFish during the Drag Review of the Pride Festival. Riot guitar player David Burke, who attended a pre-festival gathering at Wildcat Lounge, said the crowd emitted an enthusiastic dynamic.
Lead singer Tiffany Driscoll said the audience was receptive toward her band’s performance and the environment of the show.
“It was the best show I have ever had,” Driscoll said.