Every first Sunday in June, Pine City plays host to one of the few rural LGBTQ Pride festivals in America, and each year it gets a little bigger.

For 2017, the festival has booked Kat Perkins, a semifinalist on NBC’s The Voice. Perkins will be performing a Sia tribute. Joining her will be Mark Joseph and The American Soul, a regional blues and soul favorite. Twin Cities Public Television’s Val Mondor will serve as emcee.

East Central Minnesota Pride will celebrate 13 years in 2017, and has thrived despite protests and an opposing “pro-family picnic” in 2009. In indeed, the theme for 2017 will be “Pride Persists.”

According to organizers, the event will be an alcohol and tobacco free event with music, food, and art activities for children.

“Our goal has always been to provide support and friendship for LGBT and other diverse people living in the rural areas of Minnesota,” said Don Quaintance, a founding Pride board member, said in a statement. “This event brings people from all walks of life together in friendship, community and progress in understanding. It truly exemplifies the statement: ‘All are welcome here’.”

East Central Minnesota Pride happens with the help of volunteers and groups like East Central MN Men’s Circle, East Central MN Purple Circle, East Central MN chapter of PFLAG, Rural Aids Action Network, Rainbow Health Initiative and OutFront Minnesota.

East Central Minnesota Pride is on Sunday, June 4 from noon to 5pm at Robinson Park in the heart of Pine City.

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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.