NORTHAMPTON — In its second year back after the COVID-19 pandemic, Hampshire Pride will be in full swing on Saturday, May 4, with a parade and festival in downtown Northampton.

“The parade and festival are places for the LGBTQ+ community to come together and celebrate pride,” said Clay Pearson, director of Hampshire Pride. “They mean a lot of different things to different people in the LGBTQ+ community and that diversity is what we hope to showcase and celebrate.”

The parade will step off at 11 a.m. at Sheldon Field and travel down Route 9 and Main Street to Crafts Avenue and include many local organizations, businesses and school groups.

After the parade, participants and parade viewers will meet up at the Armory Street parking lot behind Thornes Marketplace for five hours of entertainment and community from 1-6 p.m.

“This year, Hampshire Pride will have twice the amount of vendors at our festival. We will have an American Sign Language interpreter at the mayoral proclamation and Drag Story Hour,” explained Pearson. “We are also making available a wellness tent and a quiet retreat room for those in need of a break from stimulus.”

The festival will have 100 vendors and two entertainment stages. Some of the vendors are Battat Glass, All Energy Solar and Bold Strokes Books. One stage will have the mayoral proclamation and other musical acts while the second stage will exclusively showcase drag performances. Over 40 drag artists are set to perform throughout the festival. For a comprehensive and up-to-date list of the artists and vendors, as well as other businesses joining in the pride celebrations, visit Hampshire Pride on its social media pages.

The current organizing group came together in March 2023 after the previous group disbanded. The group’s nine people have worked together to bring back Hampshire Pride stronger than ever. In addition to Pearson, the group features Marketing Manager Celina Almendarez, Parade Coordinators Alden Peotter and Kayla Abney, Fundraising Coordinator Zach Julius, Volunteer Coordinator Mel English, Entertainment Coordinator Joe Nickerson and Drag Coordinators Magnolia Masquerade and Harry Scruff. Beyond the organizing group, there are also more than 60 volunteers who will assist on the day of the event.

The event has worked diligently to secure sponsors for this year’s event. Its top sponsors are Familiars Coffee and Cooley Dickinson Hospital. The group will be accepting donations in donation buckets on May 4 to offset financial costs and will also accept donations via Venmo.

“We’ve been slowly but surely accruing sponsors, and are always looking for more,” said Pearson, who added that one of the best ways to support Hampshire Pride is to attend the parade and festival.

For those looking to get involved or for more information, visit www.hampshirepridema.com.

Tina Lesniak
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