Downtown Niles to host inaugural Pride Festival
Published 4:22 pm Monday, June 5, 2023
NILES — A new, inclusive event is coming to downtown Niles this month.
The Niles Pride Committee is gearing up to host its inaugural Niles Pride Festival from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 17 at Riverfront Park.
Sponsored by TREEs, OnBase Productions and Naomi Ludman, the family-friendly event will feature musical performances by WAVE and Merovingian, a one-hour drag show and more. In addition, there will be face painting, chalk art and games for children to participate in. Local vendors include TREEs Inc*, Forever Flowering, GlitterCultCo, Goddestry, the Weaver’s Nest, Wicked Pop Candle Co., Tarot by Duke and more.
The event was organized by Niles Pride Committee member Hailey Colpitts as a means to bring LGBTQ+ community members, LGBTQ+ businesses, allies, and organizations together to celebrate diversity and inclusion.
“I moved here in January because I wanted to be in a bigger community,” she said. “Niles is a growing city and when you have a growing city, you have a growing LGBTQ population. I saw that Buchanan is doing its first one and Three Rivers is doing its first one, so I decided we have to make this happen. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have something.”
Shortly after announcing her intention to plan a festival, Colpitts said she received numerous requests to help out. An 11-member committee was formed to help with the planning process.
“Right off the bat, we had people ask to join and help plan it,” she said. “It’s been nice to have more than just a couple of people so that no one feels overwhelmed by the process.”
Colpitts said the community response to the festival’s announcement has been positive and that she hopes for a strong turnout.
“I have family members and friends who are part of the community and a lot of the feedback I’ve gotten from fellow (LGBT) members in the community here in Niles was that they felt like they didn’t have a space here,” she said. “They had to go to South Bend or St. Joe to find a community. This is going to be a space where those people can meet other people who are part of the community in a space where they feel safe and welcome.”
With plenty of room left for other vendors or budding entrepreneurs, Colpitts invited them to take part in the Pride Festival. Those interested in participating can do so by filling out a form here, the Eventbrite page or by contacting the Niles Pride Committee at Nilespridecommittee@gmail.com. For more information regarding the festival, visit the group’s event page and Facebook page.