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2023 Akron Pride Festival celebrates history, diversity, acceptance

Photo of Akron Pride Fest
Carter Adams

Akron Pride will celebrate its sixth annual march and celebration Saturday Downtown.

The Akron Equity March will begin at 10 a.m. on Main Street. The message of the march is equity vs equality, according to the festival’s finance chair Phil Montgomery.

“When we started it was called the equality march, and we made the conscious decision to change the name, and it's the equity march,” he said. “It’s not a parade, so we don't throw candy, and we don't allow floats, and we don't do cars, it's really a march in solidarity and remembrance that pride was a protest.”

He said equality means everyone is treated the same, whereas equity means everyone has the resources and support they individually need to get to the same place.

This year’s event will be the sixth. When Akron Pride began in 2017 it was held in Hardesty Park. The event grew over the following years from an attendance of 8,000 to 15,000. After taking a year off in 2020 due to the pandemic, the festival moved downtown. At last year’s festival, an estimated 35,000 people attended. Organizers are hoping for an even larger turnout this year.

This year’s event will feature several performers including singer-songwriter Greyson Chance, drag queen Marcia Marcia Marcia, popstar Madison Rose and drag king Landon Cider.

The performers were chosen because of their involvement in and support for the LGBTQ community, Montgomery said.

“We want to bring entertainment to the community that's part of the community,” he said.

The festival will also offer a children’s area for kids and families, an area for vendors and a beer garden. Akron Pride will also hold its first annual 5k run at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Montgomery said it is important to celebrate Pride annually. He said his goal of holding the festival is to empower the community.

“We hope to show that our community here in Akron and Summit County is open, welcoming, affirming and just the sheer attendance that we bring in for this event every year is a testament to those efforts.”

Grace Springer is a journalism student at Kent State University. She is the General Assignment Editor for KentWired and covers executive administration for student media.