Lexington Pride Festival Moves forward with in-person event: New Safety Protocols

The Lexington Pride Festival is moving forward with plans for an in-person event on Saturday September 25th 2021 from 11 am to 10 pm at the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza in Lexington.

This 14th annual community event produced by Pride Community Services Organization (PCSO) offers music, vendors, activities, connection, and a general public celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community in Central Kentucky and throughout the state.

“We understand that other events in the community have been canceled or moved to a virtual format. Careful consideration was given to this decision by PCSO and the Lexington Pride Festival Planning Committee,” said Jeremy Ellis. “As always, our first priority is to the LGBTQIA+ community we serve and their well-being.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the LGBTQIA+ community especially hard. Isolation from community members, being quarantined in homes where identities are not supported, and not having access to normal mental health supports have created unique challenges for LGBTQIA+ people. PCSO has received repeated input from those they serve about how much they want to see the Lexington Pride Festival take place in-person this year and how much it is truly needed by the community.

In making a decision about how to proceed, PCSO did not ignore the health risks presented by COVID-19. LGBTQIA+ people are more vulnerable to risks from the coronavirus due to conditions that are more common in this population. PCSO took into account reports on the spread of COVID-19 at in-person outdoor events both locally and across the nation. The news has been positive. There is no indication that outdoor, in-person events with proper protocols are “super spreaders.”

Due to the current rising rate of COVID-19 cases, organizers will be taking an abundance of caution to protect guests, staff, volunteers, and the larger community.

“We believe that instituting thorough safety protocols will allow us to gather as a community in the safest way possible,” says Ellis.

Here’s what to expect for health and safety protocols at the Lexington Pride Festival this year:

● Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours (3 days) of attending the event will be required for everyone to enter the festival. This includes guests, vendors, sponsors, volunteers, and staff.

● While, as always, there will be no admission charge for the festival, there will be specific entry points into the area this year so that proof of vaccination or negative test may be checked.

● All attendees should bring a face mask. Extras will be available at the festival. Anyone who is unvaccinated is asked to wear a mask except when eating or drinking. Those who are vaccinated should wear masks when 6 foot distancing can not be maintained. Everyone is encouraged to wear masks if you enter indoor spaces near the festival area.

● Multiple hand sanitizing areas will be available at the festival. Attendees should sanitize their hands frequently.

● To care for yourself and protect others, please DO NOT attend the festival if any of the following is true for you or anyone in your party:
○ Within 14 days of attending the festival, you have tested positive, or been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19;
○ Within 48 hours of attending the festival, you have experienced symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., a fever of 100.4F or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking muscle pain/achiness, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nasal congestion, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue or any other symptoms associated with COVID-19 identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention);
○ Within 14 days prior to attending the festival, you have travelled to any international territory identified by federal or applicable state or local governments as being subject to travel or quarantine advisories due to

● Cleaning crews will do frequent cleanings in high touch areas.

● Though not related to COVID-19, the Lexington Pride Festival will be a completely tobacco, smoke, and vape-free event this year in order to create a more healthy environment for our community.

● Those who have health or safety concerns are encouraged to assess their own personal risk when making the decision about whether to attend in person. For those who decide not to attend, the Lexington Pride Festival Planning Committee is working on virtual options to provide access to portions of the festival from other locations.

Organizers will continue to monitor the situation and to update protocols in accordance with state and local guidelines and changing circumstances. The situation may change quickly and they will make decisions accordingly. Protocols will be updated as necessary as the festival date moves closer. For the most up-to-date information check the Lexington Pride Festival website (www.lexpridefest.org) and follow social media accounts.

Lexington Pride Festival is an event of PCSO. Founded in 1977, PCSO is the oldest operating LGBTQIA+ organization in Kentucky. Our mission is to celebrate and empower the intersectional lives of LGBTQIA+ Kentuckians. We envision a world free of marginalization where every LGBTQIA+ person is free to be who they are and love who they love. For more information about our programs and services visit our website at http://www.pcsoky.org.

Please direct any questions to Jeremy Ellis, Chair of the 2021 Lexington Pride Festival, and board member of Pride Community Services Organization at jellis@lexpridefest.org or (606) 344-7345.

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