East Central Minnesota Pride is pleased to announce that its 16th Pride celebration, to be held Saturday, Sept. 18, will have a full lineup of fun and entertainment.

After a long stretch of physical distancing and other restrictions, the LGBTQ+ communities in the counties of Pine, Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec and Mille Lacs will once again gather in person while adhering to current safety protocols.

The annual “Pride in the Park” celebration runs from 1 to 5 p.m. that Saturday afternoon at Robinson Park in Pine City. Duluth-based blues/funk/jam band Jacob Mahon & the New Salty Dog will play a high energy, genre eccentric set inspired by the likes of Frank Zappa, John Denver and A Tribe Called Quest. Minneapolis-based Rebel Queens aim to take the crowd on a turbo-speed wild ride through vintage-inspired rock ‘n’ roll. Martina Marraccino, a unicorn storyteller, known for their talent in theater, singing and dancing, will emcee the event.

New this year is a wide range of food trucks. In the mix are Burnsville-based Tacos Tacuba, Brooklyn Park-based Run Tell That BBQ and Pine City-based Cabin Coffee. Minneapolis-based Sandy’s Grill & Italian Ice will be parked a block north at Three Twenty Brewing Co., 135 5th St. SE.

At 7 p.m., LGBTQ+ film screenings will take place at Pine Center for the Arts, 265 5th St. SE, shown by the Highway 61 Film Festival.

At 9 p.m. there will be a drag performance at Froggy’s Bar & Grill, 209 5th St. SE. Though Froggy’s has opened its doors to many different types of entertainers over the years — from rock to rap — including national acts, this will be its first ever drag show. The event is free and open to anyone over 18.

Froggy’s bartender and cook, Aren Dilts, said, “Froggy’s has always been a welcoming and loving place to gather with friends. A small town doesn’t mean a small mind, and I feel like hosting this event full of love and light is the best way to show that.”

Dilts added, “Pine City is ready and very capable of expanding the diversity in our area. I feel having local, family-owned businesses that support LGBTQ+ is just another way that proves Pride is for everyone, in every town, no matter the size.”

East Central Minnesota Pride, billed as “Minnesota’s Small-Town LGBTQ+ Pride,” has been held since 2005, missing only 2020 due to the pandemic.

This will be the first year the event is held on a Saturday to mutually benefit area businesses and celebrants.

“The safety and well-being of our community is the number one consideration,” explained Pride organizer Julie Redpath of Chisago City. “We looked at ways to make the event fun and enjoyable, yet safe.” Both the Minnesota Department of Health and Pine County Health and Human Services are collaborating to provide Covid-19 vaccines to those interested at East Central Minnesota Pride on that Saturday afternoon, Sept. 18.

The voters of Minnesota make this activity possible, through a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Stay tuned for updates at www.EastCentralMinnesotaPride.org.

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