Yesterday we attended the first-ever Pride Festival held at the Pinellas Art Village in Pinellas Park, FL and we were pleasantly surprised by what our little town accomplished!
We’ve attended the last Saturday of the month art walks and block pARTies held at 5663 Park Blvd N and really enjoyed ourselves, so we thought this might be as much (or more) fun and we were right!
Latin Pop Artist John Gascot organized Pinellas Park’s first gay pride festival where he has established his studio in the Pinellas Art Village. He’s organized several of the Saturday Block pARTies but decided a Free Pride Festival in the heart of Pinellas county might attract a new group of people who otherwise might not discover this up-and-coming art district.
More than 60+ vendors, performers, artists, food trucks, and locals gathered from 2-10 pm to have the most colorful celebration yet! Vendors pulled out all the stops creating amazing items promoting love, acceptance, creativity, and community. It was a beautiful sight.
The weather held out at least while we were there, and the crowds were small and manageable, just the way we like it. We walked from home but there appeared to be plenty of parking and a nice police and medic presence too. All in all, we think The Pinellas Art Village pulled off another lovely event that promoted Pride to the fullest.
It was almost perfect, however… As volunteers and Staff at Big Cat Rescue, I can’t let this be ignored. A huge pet peeve for us is animal exploitation. The ONLY thing that was a huge letdown to us was that they allowed two animal encounter vendors to set up next to reputable organizations such as The South Eastern Guide Dogs and Pinellas County Animal Shelter. Promoting Selfies with Sloths, Kiss a gator, and wild animals as pets or photo props is completely unacceptable at a festival meant to protect, raise awareness, and uphold the rights of the LGBTQ community. Parading around skunks for people to pet or alligators with their mouths taped shut directly across from live music and large crowds is cruel and is completely sending the wrong message that these animals want to be touched. Wild animals should never be promoted as pets or be made to look like pets. That just causes people and especially kids to think they can own or tame wild animals. These types of situations are incredibly stressful and scary for animals that literally can’t speak for themselves. Reputable organizations do not buy, sell, breed, touch or allow public contact with wild animals. I truly hope that if this event becomes an annual event- they choose more responsible vendors in the future that actually promote rescue and not animal exploitation. We’ve got to do better for the animals. The only wild animals that should have been at this event were all of us party animals celebrating pride 🌈
Let’s do even better next year!!! #prideatthevillage #pinellaspark