East Central Minnesota Pride will hold the 18th ‘Pride in the Park’, Saturday, June 3, 2023, from noon to 5 p.m. in Robinson Park, downtown Pine City. The event is a celebration of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning) community of Pine, Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec and Mille Lacs counties.

Like all of its past events, there’s a theme. This year’s theme is “Pride Alive 365”. “Pride is more than just one day out of the year,” said organizer Don Quaintance. “For us, it’s personal. Pride is alive in us 365 days a year.”

Organizers are proud to stage the ever-popular Roxxy Hall Band for the first time, as well as welcome back Mark Joseph and the American Soul, and Jacob Mahon and New Salty Dog.

Roxxy Hall Band is an all-women, Twin Cities-based rock-n-soul ensemble that has been on the Midwest music scene since the 1980s.

In his fourth Pride appearance, blues is front and center for the versatile Mark Joseph.

“The Blues is my home,” said Joseph. “A place filled with emotions, the past… an uncertain future. Dark, light, it’s all there.”

Also back are Duluth-based Mahon, on guitar and vocals, and his accompanying Northwoods funk jam band, New Salty Dog. Emceeing the event for the third time is Martina Marraccino.

The event is free to attend and features a wide variety of vendors and exhibitors, live music, food, arts activities and entertainment. All are welcome to attend.

“We are welcoming back the Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community, with their children’s activities,” said organizer Julie Redpath. “Families and people of all ages enjoy that.”

East Central Minnesota Pride was born in 2005, as a fifth anniversary of the East Central Men’s Circle, a discussion group for gay, bisexual and questioning men of the region. It was the first rural pride to be held not only in Minnesota, but anywhere outside of a metro area.

“We were skeptical about whether anyone would show up in a public place,” said Quaintance, a founding member. “But hundreds showed up for our first event, and it’s grown ever since. Last year’s Pride drew over 700 people.”

This activity is funded through a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State’s general fund.

More information can be found at www.EastCentralMinnesotaPride.org.

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