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Warren County group growing, hosts fifth event this weekend

Submitted photo Kimzie and friends at Pride 2023.

From its modest origins in 2020, Warren County Pride has grown into a significant community event. Born during the challenging times of COVID-19, a small group of friends gathered at General Joseph Warren Park for an informal outdoor event.

Despite its casual nature, the event drew around 40 attendees, marking a successful start for Warren County’s first Pride event.

Jill Sumner, an ally of the LQBTQIA+ community and current Vice President of the Warren County Pride board of directors, wanted a more welcoming community for family and friends who visit and the community members living in Warren County.

Sumner stated that “every year we are seeing progress. The first year was progress, to have a Pride event in a predominantly conservative area .”

Warren County Pride is a testament to the power of community. As Sumner, the Vice President of the Warren County Pride board of directors, aptly puts it, “Pride has always been a team effort, driven by the dedication of volunteers; without them, it could not have grown into what it is.”

Photo by Elizabeth Raible North PA Ghostbusters setting the bar for the costume contests will be appearing again this year.

Father Matthew Scott of the Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church has been one of the volunteers instrumental in Warren County Pride. He is an unwavering ally and serves as the secretary on the board of directors. Trinity Memorial allows Warren County Pride to utilize space for meetings.

In 2021, Warren County Pride added events and speakers and showcased its first Drag Queen, Miss Jessica Rabbit. There were also an assortment of vendors, including queer artisans and LGBTQIA+ accepting organizations.

Pride Day 2023 saw attendees of around 3,000 people and hosted 100 vendors at the event — incredible growth in just four years.

Warren County Pride is a family-friendly event. A lot of time goes into ensuring the music has clean lyrics, fun events for all ages are incorporated, and attendees are safe and respectful.

“The humanity of the event is so important,” said Brinn See, treasurer of the Warren County Pride board of directors. “It takes being bold to make progress. We are doing that for those who cannot for whatever reason.”

Last year, the Struthers Library Theatre hosted the first Drag Show at Sally’s Encore Theatre Bar, which was incredibly successful. This event is adult-only — 18 and over, and this year, there will be two Drag Shows today with the first starting at 6 p.m. and the second starting at 9.

This year, Warren Pride After Dark will be another adult-only event added to the celebration of Warren County Pride. It will begin at 9 p.m. at Sneakers Bar in Jamestown with karaoke and a Pride-themed costume contest.

Warren County Pride has influenced other rural and conservative counties to hold their own pride events. Last year, the mayor of Oil City approached Jessica Rabbit to inquire about starting a Pride Day event. Miss Rabbit will perform at the inaugural event in Venengo Pride in the Park on June 22, beginning at 11 a.m.

Pride is all about bringing the community together; in the words of LGBTQIA+ Harvey Milk, “The more people open their hearts to us, the less we will have to fight for our rights.”

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