Longmeadow Pride Alliance fundraising for third annual festival

June 8, 2023 | Sarah Heinonen

LONGMEADOW — The Longmeadow Pride Alliance is gearing up for the third annual Longmeadow Pride festival on Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Longmeadow Town Green. The organization needs the community’s help to make it happen.

“This will be a free, family-friendly event with lots of fun activities for the kids, including face painting, lawn games and yoga on the Green.” The Alliance stated on its GoFundMe page. “We will have a nice assortment of food trucks, as well as some wonderful live entertainment for you all to enjoy. And of course, we will have an incredible variety of booths, ranging from local resources and non-profits to local LGBTQ colleges, faith organizations, healthcare providers and more. This will be coupled with many local craftspeople and artisans with goods for you to peruse.

The organizers have begun raising funds to host the event.

Longmeadow Pride Alliance Vice President Elizabeth Morgan said, “Our goals with our fundraising is to give back to the community. All funding goes to enhancing the festival. The more people [that] can enjoy the festival, the more visibility and positivity will be in the community.”

Last year, Morgan said the Alliance spent approximately $15,000 to host Longmeadow Pride. The organizers are hoping to raise at least that much for this year’s event.

The alliance is seeking corporate donors, as it has in years past, and has reached out to past donors to see if they would like to support the festival again this year.

“We have a big list of donors,” Munich said, adding that returning donors have committed to funding “several thousands of dollars.”

Morgan added, “We appreciate as much as they’re willing to give. We would be very happy to receive $10,000” in corporate donations.

The Longmeadow Pride Alliance also received a $500 multicultural grant from the Longmeadow Cultural Council to help fund the festival.

Individuals can donate through the GoFundMe campaign, at gofundme.com/f/longmeadow-pride-2023. “We haven’t really done a big push on [the campaign] yet,” said Longmeadow Pride Alliance President and founder Nate Munich. As of press time, the campaign has raised $400 of its $5,000 goal, but Morgan said the organization expects donations to pick up throughout the month of June, as it is Pride Month.
“We are accepting anything people want to give. That can mean monetary donations, in-kind donations, or just showing up the day of the festival and letting us put you to work.”

Morgan said, “We you have some really great volunteers, and we appreciate them.”

Last year, there were fewer volunteers than in the first year of the festival. Morgan said that was likely due to the enthusiasm and excitement in 2021 around it being the first Longmeadow Pride festival.

“There seems to be this ebb and flow” of volunteers, Munich said. “This year, I’m getting the sense that people want to be involved this year I’m getting the sense that people want to be involved.”

Morgan said they were excited about increasing the number of nonprofit vendors and organizations that are represented at the event. For the first time this year, the Western New England Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity will have a booth on the Green. The Veterans’ Administration and TransHealth are also among the resources and community organizations that will be present.

When asked if the Pride festival is having an impact on the visibility and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in Longmeadow, Morgan said, “I hope so. I do think the visibility lets people in Longmeadow and the surrounding community know that there’s a good group of people in Longmeadow who want to support them and have them find resources.”

She added that the festival’s mission of visibility, acceptance and support “[focuses] on youth and families, including schools. The festival is a key indicator for those youth that there is support.” Morgan said many pride festivals have been organized recently in surrounding towns. “We’re so happy to be part of that,” she said.

Munich said the festival is a sign that the Alliance is “carving out a space for people in the community. [Longmeadow is] not as vibrant of a community as Northampton. Our downtown isn’t painted in rainbow colors, but we do have a growing, robust queer community. We’re just more quiet about it.”

Now that the festival is a little more established, Munich said, “we’re trying to round out the hard edges.” Morgan said that in the first year, the festival was planned in just a few months and was “rushed.”

Moving forward, Munich explained that the event will be part Pride festival, part craft and artisan festival and part music festival.

There will be much more music this year, Munich said. He added that organizers found people did not sit in the chairs that had been set up in front of the stage last year. “We’re doing away with the chairs,” he said, except for some on hand for those who are mobility impaired.

He described his vision for the event, saying, “Bring their kids, bring their dog, stake out a spot on the Green, spread out a blanket near the stage, walk around, come back to your spot” to listen to music. “So, they can sit, relax and enjoy the day. We want people to be able to forget their worries, even if their worries have nothing to do with being LGBTQ+.”

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