boatA fruit float, a giant bonfire on the beach, a fun run, a block party, a drag show and world famous RuPaul! Duluth-Superior Pride packs a lot of gay fun into three days over Labor Day weekend. In its 23rd year, the festival expects to draw over 12,000 people to the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis.

DS Pride, as it is commonly abbreviated, has been named by Out magazine as the “Best Small Town Pride,” a recognition organizers still embrace.

The weekend of events kicks off on Thursday with a reception with Duluth Mayor Don Ness. The reception is a relatively new event; the former mayor, Gary Doty, would veto the city’s Pride proclamation each year. He retired in 2004.

Thursday also features a Lesbian Film Fest at the Building For Women including films such as When Night Is Falling, Interviews With My Next Girlfriend, Black and White, By Hook Or By Crook, Show Me Love and Unveiled.

Friday’s events include a poetry reading at Jitters Coffee House and a Jazz Fest at Carmody Irish Pub.

The bonfire on Friday is a tradition. At sunset hundreds gather for a large bonfire, don their flannel, pack a cooler of beer and enjoy the beach on Lake Superior.

Saturday morning offers a 5K Family fun run, walk and roll which runs alongside the St. Louis River on the Western Waterfront Trail. Beginning at 11 am and running to 7 pm, the Pride festival at Bayfront Festival Park offers music, vendors, a beer tent and entertainment by Sick of Sarah, Boogie Wonderland and RuPaul. Following RuPaul, the party continues at JT’s Bar and Grill across the bridge in Superior for dancing and an outside block party.

On Sunday, it’s time for church for the believers at the LGBT supportive Peace United Church Of Christ in Duluth and then the Parade in Superior. Sunday afternoon is a tour on one of three boat cruises for a three hour tour of Lake Superior. Drag shows, a cash bar and lunch make for a great cruise.

Sunday night features a drag show fundraiser for HIV prevention and care services in the Duluth-Superior area.

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Andy Birkey
Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

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