2021 Louisville Pride Festival canceled due to climbing COVID-19 cases

by Spencer Jenkins
Founder, Executive Director

The Louisville Pride Foundation announced today in a press release to Queer Kentucky that their annual Pride festival is canceled for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 virus.

With the Delta variant ravishing communities around the Untied States, and 115 Kentucky counties being in the ‘red zone,’ LPF said they cannot ignore the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the Louisville area and the CDC and Kentucky Department for Public Health’s recommendations to avoid large gatherings.

This is the second year in a row that the Highlands, Louisville based festival succumbed to cancelation from COVID-19.

In the press release LPF said, “At the Louisville Pride Foundation, pride in our community is at the heart of everything we do, and this includes concern for the health, welfare and safety of our Louisville family. Thus, with sadness and sincere apologies, our 2021 Louisville Pride Festival is cancelled.”

The Louisville Pride Festival began in 2015 under the original executive team consisting of, Thomas Carrier, Omicah House and Ronda Sharp.

“Louisville Pride is a celebration of diversity and a way to learn about what is going on in the community and the issues our communities are faced with,” Carrier said in a 2015 interview with Louisville.com.

Since its inception, the Louisville Pride Foundation has led several street festivals, community oriented programing, fundraisers for numerous organizations and most recently LPF is spearheading the LGBTQ+ community center project for Louisville. The organization continues “COVID pivoting” under the direction of LPF Board Chair, Ashleigh Donaldson and Executive Director, Mike Slaton.

“The board came to an agreement that this was the best decision to make,” Donaldson said in a phone call with Queer Kentucky.

She added that having multiple board members from the public health community helped direct how to make this decision. One of which is Dr. Mollie Aleshire, DNP, APRN, Assistant Professor University of Louisville School of Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner.

Mike Slaton, Executive Director
Ashleigh Donaldson, Board Chair

“Since I moved to Louisville in 2020, I have been looking forward to my first Louisville Pride Festival this year and am disappointed that the event is canceled,” Aleshire said. “But, our community’s health and safety must come first! With COVID-19 rates in Louisville and Kentucky as high as they were in January and still climbing as well as the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant, large gatherings risk community health.”

Slaton said vendors were notified of the cancelation prior to the press release and were given the option to ask for a refund or carry their payment over to 2022.

“It’s heartbreaking to have to cancel again, but we have to put the health of the entire community first. We don’t want anyone to die because they came to the Louisville Pride Festival,” Slaton said. “We are exploring all sorts of alternative programming and welcome ideas. We are looking to do some hands on activity, like a Day of Service, as well as ways to engage people with social media.”

According to the press release, LPF wants to thank their team and partners for the hard work that they have put into planning the 2021 Louisville Pride Festival.

“We would also like to thank the donors and sponsors that make our work possible. It was a difficult decision, but we cannot risk this year’s Louisville Pride Festival contributing to the community spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.”

To learn more about climbing COVID-19 numbers, click here.

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