East Central Minnesota Pride will present the 15th ‘Pride in the Park’ from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, in Robinson Park, downtown Pine City.

The event is a celebration of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning) community of Pine, Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec and Mille Lacs counties.

East Central Minnesota Pride is proud to bring musician Venus DeMars to the event stage for the first time, as well as welcome back Mark Joseph and the American Soul.

DeMars is a musician and multidisciplinary artist. As the founding member of the band “All the Pretty Horses,” her one-person show often provides the audience with a mix of contemporary music, performance and spoken word. She has been awarded Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome, and McKnight fellowships for her individual and collaborative work with Intermedia Arts.

Because of their popularity and variety of music genres, Mark Joseph and the American Soul will be performing at their third Pride. This year, Mark and the band will perform the entire album, “Graceland,” Paul Simon’s Grammy award-winning album of the year in 1987. Though now over 30 years old, “Graceland” is often cited as one of the best albums of all time. In 2007 it was added to the National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically and aesthetically important.”

As always, the event is free to attend and features a wide variety of vendors and exhibitors, live music, food, arts activities and entertainment. Emceeing the event is Twin Cities’ Public Television’s Val Mondor. All are welcome to attend.

“We are welcoming back the Wyoming Area Creative Arts Community, with their children’s activities,” said Julie Redpath, of Chisago City, who is on the Pride Committee. “Families and people of all ages enjoy that.”

East Central Minnesota Pride was born in 2005, as a fifth anniversary of the East Central Men’s Circle, a discussion group for gay, bisexual and questioning men of the region.

“We were skeptical about whether anyone would show up in a public place,” said Don Quaintance, a founding member of the Pride Committee. “But hundreds showed up for our first event, and it’s grown ever since.”

The theme of this year’s event is “Pride in the Park: 15 Years of Positive Change!”

This activity is funded through a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State’s general fund.

Area businesses that would like to show their support can contact a member of the Pride Committee for an “All Are Welcome Here” sticker or rainbow flag to display on their storefronts. More information can be found at www.EastCentralMinnesotaPride.org.

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