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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Annual Pridefest Returns on June 1st

Updated: May 31

By Jennifer Ersalesi

In recognition and celebration of Pride Month, the Pride flag will be raised at Borough Hall at 11 am on Saturday, June 1st. Following the raising of the flag, community members will gather at Lincoln Park for the Third Annual Pridefest. The Rutherford Pride Alliance and the Rutherford Arts Council work together to organize Pridefest. This is Rutherford interviewed the President of the Rutherford Arts Council, Katie Pippin, and Chair of the Rutherford Pride Alliance, Kathryn Ruhno-McCallum, to learn more about this year's event.

TIR: This is the 3rd Pridefest in Rutherford.  This year's theme is "The Power of Pride". What will be returning at this year’s Pridefest?  What will be different?

Katie Pippin: One exciting upgrade this year is the photo booth. We have a 360 photo set up, with a very cool backdrop designed by Randi Baran. So be ready to take lots of selfies! 

Kathryn Ruhno-McCallum: We have also greatly emphasized accessibility this year. We will have ASL interpreters on-site and audio and ESL translations of our program. We will also live-stream the event via the Rutherford Pride Alliance Facebook page. 

Katie Pippin: The beer garden, mechanical bull, and kids' inflatable activities will be back. We also have “axe throwing” (not real axes) for all ages. And finally, we have TONS more vendors than ever before. The entire park will have an amazing array of food, craft vendors, information tables, pride merch, and other fun things for sale.  We will also have a Rainbow Road Virtual Art Crawl, a walking tour through the park. Each stop leads you to explore the works of a different queer artist in and around Rutherford. We have such a diverse range of mediums. It will be really cool.

TIR: How are the Rutherford Pride Alliance and the Rutherford Arts Council working together to ensure that this is another successful event?

KRM: Our main Pridefest planning committee consists of members from both organizations. From the RPA we have Kat Ruhno-McCallum and David Grassetti. We have Katie Pippin, Sarah Orlowicz, and Dawn Avagliano from the RAC. We have a few new faces joining us this year. Chris Hillman, Cyn Lugtu, and Veronica Ruhno-McCallum have joined via the RPA, and Jennifer Zenquis-Diaz has joined via the Arts Council. Having new folks means we have fresh ideas! This is a great team and we’ve really had a blast working together. 

TIR: Pridefest is a family-friendly event.  Can you tell us more about some of the planned activities this year?

KP: Besides the kids' inflatables, we will have several kid-friendly vendors, carnival games, and a kids' crafting tent with activities for every age range. It will literally be impossible for kids to be bored at Pridefest. 

TIR: What can you tell us about this year’s Entertainment line-up?

KRM: This year we have a new hostess, Kimmy Sumony. Our DJ is Dean Seda. Be prepared to dance because Fred Astaire Studios will teach a dance lesson, and DJ Dean will lead a Zumba class. Vanguard Theater is returning this year to perform. Rounding out the talent we have performances by Tami Hart, Keilana, Jayson Gilbert, and the Actors Studio of NJ. 

TIR: Why do you believe Pridefest is such an important event in the Rutherford community?

KP: Pride events are more important than ever. These events bring visibility to our community while creating a safe environment where everyone can feel welcomed, appreciated, and embraced for their authentic selves.

TIR: Would you like to mention any sponsors?

KP: Huge thanks are due to our Gold-level sponsors BCB Bank and Variance Films. We are so grateful for their support, as well as the support of all of our other sponsors. Downtown businesses really showed up for us this year. You can learn more about our sponsors on the PrideFest website.

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