Earlier this spring, the city saw the end of Boise Pride Week when the nonprofit that ran the festivities dissolved. Boise Pride, Inc. ran out of money and no sponsors stepped forward to fund it. But two months ago, Pride was reincarnated as Boise Pride Fest.
Rodney Busbee, the new organizer of the festival, said he hasn't even touched his couch since he took on the the task of putting on Pride Fest. This year, the celebration will look entirely different: Instead of taking over Ann Morrison Park as it has done in years past, Pride Fest will pop up in the middle of BoDo on Saturday, June 21--along with a party the night before at the Lucky Dog Tavern and a rally and parade starting at the steps of the Capitol at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Busbee said he hopes the move will lead to a larger economic impact, higher visibility and more allies. Another huge change this year: Pride Fest isn't free.
"A wristband is $20," Busbee said, "and that gets you into, like, a little mini-Treefort. You can go to the Lucky Dog Tavern, the Balcony, Liquid and the Knitting Factory."
Busbee said he has booked more than 30 acts to perform across those locations, as well as on a main stage in the streets of BoDo, on Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Acts vary from an Elton John tribute, musician Eric Himan, singer-songwriter Alana Davis, Boise's Gay Men's Chorus and the Caravan of Glam traveling cabaret.
Dawn Rising, of local company Delicate Design Wedding and Event Planning, jumped on board with the festival and plans to have a booth up all day. She said Delicate Design has only planned two weddings for same-sex couples, but she can't wait to do more.
"Everyone's love is amazing," Rising said.
She said it's helpful for same-sex couples to have wedding planners because a lot of couples feel they have to ask their DJs or photographers or wedding caterers to be OK with a same-sex wedding.
"It's awkward for them to have to ask. But as their planner, I take care of that for them," Rising said.
By having a booth onsite, Rising said Delicate Design is showing it supports the LGBT community and if/when the time comes for same-sex couples to marry, "They'll know who to turn to," she said.
According to Busbee, there hasn't been much negative feedback over the new format, and he hopes this will generate money for the community. He plans to give 80 percent of the profits to the Pride Foundation, which will then allocate money to scholarships for LGBT students.
He also thinks being in the middle of BoDo will help drive traffic from people who wouldn't normally go to a Pride festival.
"It's about having people realize this is a normal group of people like anybody else," Busbee said. "Their skin is just like mine, their skeleton is just like mine. The only way you can do that is to be in the middle of people who are your future allies. In the park, we weren't doing that. The only people who were there were people who went out of their way to be there."