The second annual Northwoods Pride Festival was held in Arbor Vitae last Saturday. The festival was sponsored by the Northwoods Progressives and Northern Highland LGBTQ.
The event included a potluck, live music, and a drag show, among other events. There were also resources available such as free HIV / AIDS testing, behavioral health counselors, and voter registration.
Bill Bragg founded the Rainbow Hodags at Nicolet College in 2014 when he felt there was a need for a group like that in the area. He said last year they had about 60 people come out for the Northwoods Pride Festival and this year the attendance increased by a lot.
"We were very pleased with our turnout," says Bragg. "I think our peak attendance was at least 100 for the drag show event, but people kind of wandered in and out throughout the day."
Bragg says he feels that the atmosphere in the Northwoods has improved, but there is still more that could be done.
"I think there are improvements that are happening in the Northwoods and in American society generally where people are more free to be themselves openly and that's awesome," says Bragg. "Though I would say that I think it is still extremely difficult for LGBTQ youth in our public school systems in the Northwoods. A lot of strides that we've made are in the community and maybe at Nicolet College, but really there's a lot of work to be done."
Bragg says they’re interested in starting a chapter of PFLAG, which stands for “Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.” Those interested in being involved should reach out to the Northern Highland LGBTQ or the Rainbow Hodags.
Bragg also stressed the need for volunteers to put on events like the Northwoods Pride Festival. They had great help this year from all kinds of different groups in the Northwoods, but they’re hoping to expand the event next year with new faces. Those with a background in non-profit work or theater / production are especially encouraged to get involved for the Northwoods Pride Festival to be held next year.
More information on the Northwoods Pride Festival can be found here: http://northwoodspride.com/