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Ann Arbor’s OUTFest & Pride Picnic kicks off Friday

Greg Tasker
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor may not have an LGBTQ pride celebration every June, but that will be remedied this month with the weekend-long OUTFest & Pride Picnic.

The three-day festival, which kicks off Friday night with the showing of the movie “Rent,” will be held in Ann Arbor’s historic Kerrytown, as well as other parts of the city. Some 2,000 to 4,000 people are expected to attend; the festival culminates with a picnic on Sunday.

OUTFest, sponsored by the Jim Toy Community Center, a resource center for the LGBTQ and Ally communities, features activities and events for the community and the public. The festival includes a street fair in Kerrytown and entertainment.

“It’s a super fun event,” says Margaret Wyzlic, a spokeswoman for the Ann Arbor Convention & Visitors Bureau. “There’s everything from classical music presentations to a beer garden to all sorts of adult-theme events. It’s family friendly too, with kids’ activities and a board game night. It’s just an across-the-board fun community event.”

In its 22nd year, OUTFest began as a community support event and a chance for attendees to show their pride. It has evolved into a celebration of the community, and this year the event was moved from October to August. The change means better weather and less competition from fall events.

“OUTFest has become a gathering and a celebration of our community,” says Sandi Smith, a community leader. “Where it used to be more about visibility within the greater community, it is now Ann Arbor’s version of Pride.”

The inaugural OUTFest was a party for National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. “It was just a large tent with music and dancing in the open space behind Community High School, but it felt like the first time that we could publicly celebrate who we are,” Smith says.

Also on Friday, a dance party will be held at 9 p.m. at Necto nightclub.

Saturday’s street festival will be held on North Fourth in Kerrytown with booths from businesses, organizations and community partners. Entertainment includes a poetry slam; a drag review; live music; and a Burlesque show. Eli Savit, an attorney with Citizen Education Law Clinic, a nonprofit that offers free, public talks on legal issues, will speak on Civil Rights and Equal Protection at 4 p.m. at the 327 Bar in Braun Court.

Other activities include a beer and wine garden. Mighty Good Coffee on Main Street will host a board game night.

The weekend culminates with the Washtenaw County Pride Picnic at Wheeler Park. . The picnic, which runs noon to 4 p.m., offers a mimosa station sponsored by Barefoot Wine, bratwursts from the Wurst Bar in Ypsilanti and other food and activities.

Saturday’s events will coincide with the 97th anniversary celebration at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. The market, open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., will expand onto Detroit Street in Kerrytown, within eyeshot of OUTFest.

“We’re hoping to glean some of those people from the farmers market,” says Leo Cartier Jr., the festival co-chairman. “We’re expecting a fair number of out of town people too. This is about the closest thing we have to an annual pride festival.”

Greg Tasker is a Metro Detroit-based freelance writer.

OUTFest & Pride Picnic


Kerrytown, Ann Arbor