Louisville Pride will be held Saturday on Bardstown Road from Beechwood to Grinstead Drive. | Courtesy of Louisville Pride

Creating an annual festival from scratch is no easy task, but the members of the Louisville Pride Foundation, which puts on the Louisville Pride Festival, have managed to succeed by growing their event in both vendors and attendees year after year.

(Louisville Pride Foundation is a separate organization from the Kentuckiana Pride Festival, which hosts a similar event downtown each June.)

The fourth annual Louisville Pride will take over Bardstown Road in the Highlands on Saturday, Sept. 15, from Beechwood Avenue to Grinstead Drive. The family-friendly event features live music, food and drink vendors, as well as more than 130 booths from local organizations, nonprofits, businesses, churches, retailers and arts and crafters.

Thomas W. Carrier | Photo by Antonio Pantoja

Headliners include R&B singer (and a one-time backing vocalist for Celine Dion) Deborah Cox, up-and-coming pop artist Vincint and Louisville’s own jazz crooner Carly Johnson.

Other performers include Robbie Bartlett, Ma’am Overboard, Tori Whodat, Mary Mary and the city’s top drag entertainers, from Hurricane Summers to Leah Halston.

Thomas W. Carrier, chairman of the Louisville Pride Foundation board, tells Insider that planning for the festival is a year-round commitment, and the board members and volunteers who put it on learn something new each time.

“The Foundation started Louisville Festival to be a free and open forum for the organizations that are on the ground doing the hard work on issues facing our community,” Carrier says. “This year, we have really focused on getting to a point where we can provide booth space to a number of local organizations for free.”

The first year they hosted Louisville Pride, they weren’t sure who would show up, Carrier admits.

“Thankfully, we have been overwhelmed with the community’s response and desire to participate,” he says. “Most people do not realize what it means to LGBTQ+ individuals to see their city — their elected officials, some of the largest employers in the city like Ford or United Auto Workers and their neighbors — come out and show their love and support because many people in our community do not feel accepted where they live or work, even here in Louisville.

“That’s why it’s important that people show up and spread the love because that’s what its all about,” he continues.

Deborah Cox will take the stage at 9:15 on Saturday. | Courtesy of Louisville Pride

Carrier plans to put in the hours this week leading up to Saturday’s event, along with all the other board members and volunteers, including the newly appointed full-time executive director Mike Slaton, board vice president Omicah House, board member Brent Turner and vendor coordinator Amelia Runyon Williamson.

“It will be nonstop, but thankfully, we have a whole host of people who work on the event now, so it is a lot easier than it was the first couple years,” he says. “There is no way it could happen without all of the volunteers who work on this year round.”

Carrier is most looking forward to hosting the largest number of street vendors they’ve had, as well as some of the new activities including a silent disco, the Voices of Kentuckiana “High Heel Race” at 1:30 p.m., and a street circus called the Bizarre Bazaar.

Louisville Pride is free and open to all. It takes place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15.

Grab these glasses!
Cool glasses! | Courtesy of Big Bar

To help celebrate Louisville Pride, festival co-sponsor Big Bar, located smack dab in the middle of the event, will be selling the festive Maker’s Mark swiveling rocks glasses pictured at right.

Starting today, Sept. 11, you can grab any color you’d like for $10, which includes a Maker’s drink of your choice.

We’re a sucker for glassware, so we thought we should pass along the info.

Chill Bar, another festival sponsor and nearby bar, also will host special events throughout the day, including DJ Syimone from 2 to 7 p.m. and VJ AJ McKay from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

And finally, Old 502 Winery will be on hand with their special Louisville Proud wine. The limited-edition white wine will be available by the pour or bottle.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."