By Laura Latzko
Although Phoenix has a strong and visible LGBTQ community, other places in Arizona have fewer resources and events for LGBTQ individuals. The lack of family-friendly LGBTQ events in and near Kingman inspired Courtney Kroenke to come up with the idea for the Mohave Pride Festival.
The first annual Mohave Pride Festival will take place on Saturday, June 8 at Metcalf Park in Kingman. Kroenke, a face painter, said her experience at another Pride festival inspired her to create a more family-friendly option for her community. “We didn’t feel that it was a very good representation of the queer community. It was very political. It was very sexualized, and there was nothing there for the families in attendance,” Kroenke said. Kroenke is modeling the Mohave Pride Festival after family-friendly events such as Pride in the Pines in Flagstaff. “It’s going to be a really nice time for everybody to come out and spend time together,” Kroenke said.
The event will offer family-friendly activities such as live music, DJs, bouncy houses, a children’s costume contest, performances from re-enactors and belly dancers. Additional fun can be had at a tie-dye booth, a rock painting activity, Frisbee and cornhole games, and hug tents.
During the festival, the surf punk rock group the Tiki Bandits and the classic rock/alternative/new wave band the Swillers will perform for audiences. The weekend festivities will also include a 21-and-older drag show at Black Bridge Brewery on Saturday evening and a Sunday drag queen brunch at Victoria’s Sugar Shack.
Kroenke said having a Pride festival is important in Mohave County because the LGBTQ community doesn’t have a significant presence in the area. “There is not a visible queer community. There are no centers. There are no groups. Even the gay-straight alliances in the high schools are very small, very underrepresented. There is no place for people to get together and be comfortable with themselves. So, now there is,” Kroenke said. Kroenke was touched by a message from a local woman in Bullhead City, who had expressed that she and her wife have often felt isolated and alone in the area. “She was so thankful that finally, we are getting a pride,” Kroenke said. Kroenke hopes that the event will allow people in Mohave County to start to build connections. “We need as a community to pull together and say, ‘You are not alone.’ Hopefully, that is what this event will accomplish,” Kroenke said.
This year’s theme for the festival will be “family.” In keeping with the theme, high school from Kingman, Bullhead City and Lake Havasu will speak on their experiences of finding support within their families or creating their own families after their parents turned their backs on them. Local organizations such as the Kingman Freethinkers social club will be out at the event, and food vendors will offer options such as hamburgers, hotdogs and vegetarian dishes.
At the festival, locals can learn more about LGBTQ-friendly organizations, social groups, and resources near them. “We want to show the queer community in our area that not only are they not alone, but they have places they can turn to,” Kroenke said.
Mohave Pride Festival 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, June 8 at Metcalf Park, 315 W. Beale St., in Kingman. Festival admission is free; donations accepted. $10 for children’s activity bracelets.
The Mohave Pride After Party is at 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 8 at Black Bridge Brewery, 421 E. Beale St., in Kingman.
Doughnuts and Drag Queen Brunch takes place at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 9 at Victoria’s Sugar Shack, 1455 E. Northern Ave., in Kingman. Admission is $25.
Visit mohavepride.com for details.