ELLSWORTH — It may be surprising to some, but Ellsworth has never held a Pride Fest. Until this year, that is. New community organization Ellsworth Pride received the city’s permission to hold the Fest on Sunday, June 13, at Knowlton Park.
“As a member of the LGBTQ community, I know on a personal level how important acceptance and inclusion is, and how wonderful it is that we have the opportunity to get the message out, especially for gay youth, that there is support from the people of Ellsworth,” Ellsworth Pride member Peter Lione said.
While COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines made planning ahead nearly impossible, Ellsworth Pride members met with city officials to see if it could be safely held. “They said yes, it could definitely be safe if it was done under the right circumstances and COVID guidelines,” Ellsworth High School teacher Carrie Kutny said.
Kutny wears two hats — she is also advisor to Ellsworth High School GSDA, or Gender/Sexuality Diversity Alliance, and said the EHS students inspired the adults to take action.
“Bar Harbor Pride is a thing. Bangor Pride is a thing. Clearly, maybe Ellsworth Pride should be a thing. It’s clearly not the responsibility of the high school students,” Kutny said.
The event is planned as family friendly, she said, and will feature live music by Downeast band Beach Trash and by members of the EHS Jazz Combo. In addition, the EHS choir will perform, including a choreographed dance piece. A drag queen story hour for children will happen in the first hour of the festival, which will wind up with a two-hour drag show by Portland’s The Curbside Queens.
“Drag is theater,” Kutny observed. “There will be nothing at Knowlton Park that I wouldn’t take my kids to.”
Refreshments will be offered by Finelli’s, Morton’s Moo, Steamy Buddha Café and Flexit Café & Bakery. The GSDA Pride Zoo, a menagerie of colorful animal sculptures, will be in place.
In addition, rainbow banners are hanging from selected Main Street light poles and will remain up throughout June, national Pride Month. Rainbows are the international symbol for the LBGTQ+ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) community.
“The rainbow flags were entirely the idea of the GSDA,” Kutny said. “When the rainbow crosswalks didn’t go through, they wanted to try something else.”
The City Council voted against painting downtown crosswalks in rainbow colors when students requested this last year. Afterward, a committee of council members and GSDA representatives formed to discuss the matter, but the group later disbanded without reaching consensus.
“We want everyone to understand that everyone is welcome here in Ellsworth,” Kutny said. “And [that] Ellsworth is a welcoming, inclusive place where people can come and dine and spend their money on Main Street and feel like they’re part of the community.”
The Ellsworth Pride Fest begins at 1 p.m. June 13, with the live music and story time. The Curbside Queens begin their show at 3 p.m., and the Fest winds down at 5 p.m.