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The Ozarks celebrates Pride and community

The rain held off as downtown Springfield filled with people during Ozarks PrideFest Saturday.

Hundreds of people lined McDaniel Street in downtown Springfield Saturday as the Pride marching band made its way to Ozarks PrideFest, an annual celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride.

The square was packed with revelers of every demographic. Organizers reported they expected up to five thousand attendees throughout the day. Dozens of vendors and organizations filled the square and every street feeding into it, offering art, t-shirts, food, information and services.

There were no apparent organized protestors. A local chapter of Charlie Kirk’s organization Turning Point USA demonstrated last year. Some obvious security presence, but a celebratory mood as opening speakers cheered on the crowd.

Linda Thomas was one of those speakers, she was the first president of the GLO center, and an original organizer of Ozarks PrideFest. This year’s PrideFest theme was “Its Giving Revolution,” Thomas spoke about the revolutions she’d seen in her time, and how it all began and ended with a sense of community.
"Revolution has happened,” Thomas said, “because we’ve gathered a community, and we still need to keep doing that. Community was and always is critical for creating revolutionary change. Especially now in our current polarization,” Thomas concluded, “we need community more than ever.”

More pride events are planned in the Ozarks this month and in the year ahead. West Plains Pride will be held June 15 and 16. It will be the first event of its kind in that city. Joplin is set to hold their PrideFest event in September this year.