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Pridefest is set for Saturday on Park Central Square

Pride flag
Pride flag

Pridefest will take place from noon to 6 on the square.

Ozarks Pridefest is this weekend on Park Central Square in Springfield.

The event will have extra security this year amid a climate in which 20 state legislatures, including Missouri, have passed laws targeting transgender people. At least one state lawmaker and a local elected official have expressed concern about drag performances at Pridefest. Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller recently expressed concern on Facebook about the event being held in a public space.

Schoeller write in the post, "The purpose of these shows is to celebrate their way of life and put it on full display for all who attend. Though I will not attend, the event will be open to the public at the square in downtown Springfield following a parade. While some concern may have been expressed by those who disagree with events of this nature, I doubt there would have been near the concern that has already been expressed had the event taken place at a private indoor venue, rather than an outdoor venue on display to all."

The Pridefest website urges attendees to ignore potential protestors as much as possible and let those assigned to security handle any situation appropriately.

"We do take safety very seriously, and especially given the increased rhetoric and, you know, some of the bigoted language we've heard circulating around the community, we have taken increased measures — more intense measures to ensure we have a safe event," said Kyler Sherman-Wilkins, board president for the GLO Center, which is the main sponsor of Pridefest.

He said the event Saturday will include a parade, booths, drag performances and more.

"Gay Chorus of the Ozarks will be there. We have a number of drag shows. We have local performers. We have a clown troupe, but, you know, and this kind of connects to our mission of throwing a family friendly event," he said. "We really are being strategic about having programs and events that the entire family can enjoy."

He said Pridefest and Pride Month are not about pushing an agenda. "It's not about grooming children or indoctrinating children. "At its core, Pride is about celebrating who we are. It's about showing the rest of the world what it means to be LGBT."

Pridefest will be held rain or shine.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.