The 2023 Marble Falls Pride Fest is June 24 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Johnson Park, 230 Avenue J South. Admission is free. Photo by Martelle Luedecke
The entire community is invited to celebrate inclusion, acceptance, and Pride Fest. The Highland Lakes Equality Center event is from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at Johnson Park, 230 Avenue J South in Marble Falls. Admission is free.
“It is a very positive, calm, family event,” said Dee Reed, president of the HLEC, which offers support and resources to LGBTQIA+ residents. “You walk through and everyone is smiling and positive and making new friends. It’s a wonderful, positive vibe. It’s almost hard to explain.”
Top offerings at this year’s event are free face painting, photo booths, and live entertainment from local artists Abby Hammond Smith, T.J. Henderson, Ace Pepper, and Tracy Chardonnay. Performances are from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
“We’ll have different styles and genres of music for everyone to enjoy,” Reed said.
Bear King Brewing Co. will set up a beer garden for the adults in the crowd. The roped-off area on the shore of Backbone Creek will have a variety of free samples, including Pridebeer, brewed just for Pride Fest. The brewery will also bring its mobile pizza kitchen.
For dessert, stop by Dee’s Shaved Ice and Chew’s Chews.
The above vendors are among about 25 that will sell their wares at the event.
“They’ll be selling crafts they’ve made, candles, T-shirts, Pride merchandise, and about anything else you can think of,” Reed said.
Especially recommended is the “free hugs station.”
“We will have moms in ‘free mom hugs’ shirts and dads in ‘free dad hugs’ shirts,” she said. “It’s definitely my favorite.”
You can also unwind and reset among the revelry.
“There’s going to be a quiet zone for anyone who is sensitive to the noise or the crowd,” Reed said. “That place will have little signs up that say ‘keep the noise level down so people can decompress.’”
For security purposes, the HLEC has hired law enforcement to ensure Pride Fest runs smoothly and without incident.
“We rent the entire park and pay for off-duty, certified police officers to keep the space safe,” Reed said. “The officers we pay for the private security are allies and affirming.”
Reed said the family-friendly festival has grown in popularity, even in the face of limited public resistance since hosting the very first one in 2021.
“Overall, the public has been very positive,” she said. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and we know we aren’t for everyone. We occasionally have a negative comment or somebody who doesn’t understand what the event is, and we have to explain to them what it is.”
Organizers launched the festival after hosting smaller events in prior years.
“We had been slowly growing each year,” Reed said. “Three years ago, we got together and said, ‘Let’s just make it big,’ because we were doing very small events where we only had our core group of 20 or 30 people. We just decided it was time to take Pride to the public.”
While Pride Fest is the group’s largest event of the year, Highland Lakes Equality Center members meet year-round for lunches, potlucks, and other fun events to continue the club’s mission of providing safe spaces for individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
“We create safe spaces every month for straight allies and LGBTQ+ or anyone who believes in equality,” Reed said. “We would love for people to join us when we have our monthly get-togethers.”
To keep up with the club’s events, Reed encourages all to sign up for the Highland Lakes Equality Center newsletter at hlequalitycenter.org.