Downtown Kingsport to host 2019 TriPride festival

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TriPride announced details on Tuesday for the 2nd annual LGBTQ pride festival. 

The nonprofit organization announced on Facebook that the festival is slated to take place Sept. 7 in downtown Kingsport with the theme “Look How Far We’ve Come.” 

TriPride said in a statement that the festival will continue with the same format as last year’s event in downtown Johnson City, with a week of activities leading up to a parade and festival the day of the event, which will include live entertainment, vendors and food trucks. 

TriPride President Kenn Lyon said the organization aims to raise about $40,000 for this year’s event. He said the event has garnered help from FunFest and the city’s chamber of commerce.

Lyon said organizers remain hopeful to revive sponsorships from last year in additino to finding new sponsors after the success of last year’s event.

Lyon said to expect a smiliar level of security for this year’s event, too. 

“It might not be as amped up (as last year’s), but it’s going to be appropriate to whatever (the police) feel is necessary to create a safe space for everybody,” he said. 

The theme will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of New York City, event which some, including Lyon, coin as the ignition of the modern civil rights movement.

“The community reached a breaking point over police harassment and brutality,” Lyon said in a statement on the TriPride website. “So they fought back. But our positive experiences last year with local government and law enforcement just emphasizes one element of how far the LGBTQ+ community has come.”

About 10,000 people came to downtown Johnson City last year to celebrate the inaugural festival last year, alongside a handful of protesters and a heavy law enforcement prescence. 

Next year, Lyon said TriPride is eyeing to have the festival in Bristol, completing a three-year circut throughout the Tri-Cities in an effort to make the festival a regional event. 

“There’s nothing in the area like that, that rotates in between cities like that,” he said. “That’s our way of bringing the community together.” 

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Eastman Chemical Company is sponsoring the 2019 TriPride event. It has been corrected; the company has not yet made a decision on sponsorship.

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