Denver PrideFest and Juneteenth are two of the biggest signs that summer has arrived in this city, so their absences last year contributed to the overall bleh that was 2020. Fear not, Denverites, both annual events will have on-the-ground presence in 2021. They’ll be doing some virtual programming, too. We are still in a pandemic.
PrideFest is moving its usual Civic Center activities to different parts of town.
The Center on Colfax announced that PrideFest will be a hybrid in-person and virtual affair the weekend of June 26. Joe Foster, vice president of development and communications at The Center, told us they’ve organized a suite of “pride hubs” that divvies some of their pre-pandemic activities into spaces across town.
The “Smirnoff Dance World,” which usually takes up a patch of concrete at Civic Center Park, will instead groove on at uptown’s Pride and Swagger. They’re planning a pool party at the Jewish Community Center in Hilltop, hosted by a drag queen named Laura Menorah. There will be “movie-themed activities” organized with help from the Sie Film Center. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science will also provide space for family-oriented programming.
For the second year in a row, we will not see any official PrideFest activities at Civic Center Park or a parade on Colfax Avenue. While Foster’s glad many in his community are getting their COVID-19 vaccines, he said it’s still too soon to deal with thousands of people crowding together downtown.
The 2021 plan, he said, “was all about making sure our community stayed safe and as socially distant as possible.”
To that end, each of the pride hubs will have some kind of capacity limit or ticketing requirement. And while people will probably miss seeing an in-person parade, their virtual format makes room for a lot more participation. Foster told us anyone who’s interested in joining their video parade can apply to do so by May 7.
A solid schedule and more details on logistics will arrive in the coming weeks.
The Juneteenth Music Festival is planning to bring live music back this year. They’re also working with PrideFest to make sure all Black lives are included in this year’s Black Independence Day event.
PrideFest usually takes place on the third weekend in June. Juneteenth falls on June 19, which this year also happens to be the third weekend in June. The events have coincided before, but this year, the city asked The Center if they might push back one week so residents don’t have to choose between the two celebrations. (Denver also officially recognized Juneteenth as a city holiday this year, too.)
Foster said The Center was happy to oblige, and it’s not the only way they’re working with the Juneteenth Music Festival.
Erica Wright, the Juneteenth Music Festival’s creative director, said their virtual event last year included a discussion about homophobia and transphobia within the Black community that sparked a “fascinating conversation on why it’s important to say ‘all Black lives matter.'”
“It has long been a taboo topic in the African American community that we’re really excited to shed light on,” she said.
So Juneteenth 2021 may also include a “Black Pride” event. Foster said The Center is providing Wright’s team with ideas and resources as they figure out how to make it happen. There aren’t a lot of details on this yet, and that’s actually by design. Organizers behind Juneteenth and PrideFest are co-hosting a virtual conversation this weekend to collect community input and see how people might like to celebrate this intersection of two traditionally siloed events.
Wright said those silos need to come down, saying Pride and Juneteenth are part of the “same liberation movement.”
“We’re just being intentional to make sure folks know that this partnership is timely, it’s important and it’s really big,” Norman Harris III, executive director of the Juneteenth Music Festival, told us. “At a high level, our organizations are committed to being inclusive and committed to really having values of solidarity amongst all of our folks.”
While they see how Black Pride might fit into their schedule, Harris and Wright are busily slating the festival’s usual pieces for June 19 and 20.
Wright said there will be live entertainment at Cousins Plaza, between Sonny Lawson Park and the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, and also off Welton Street at the Five Points Plaza. She said Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, in the old AME church at 20th and Park Avenues, will also host indoor and outdoor activities. They’re still nailing down the details of more in-person events.
Juneteenth will also keep some of their events online, like their annual #DreamBig award ceremony, in a “telethon” set for June 18. Wright said they’re still figuring out if an in-person parade might be possible.
Update: This story was updated to reflect programming most recently confirmed by the Juneteenth Music Festival. We first reported that there would be in-person comedy and an area for kids, but JMF organizers later told us those events haven’t been confirmed.