Now in its fourth year, The Woodlands Pride Festival has welcomed more than 15,000 attendees to Town Green Park. Past events boasted over 100 exhibitors, delicious treats from food trucks and exciting entertainers. Queen Persephone served as emcee for the first three years and joined the board this year as its entertainment chair, and she gives a heartfelt answer about why this festival matters.
“For years I have been a drag performer, but I more so wanted to be a part of The Woodlands Pride because every year when I did the festival a lot of people come up with a picture and talk to me. I just get inspired by people who came to the show. I've met parents whose children get bullied because they're transitioning as young as 12 or 13. I've had queer children who tell me that I provided comfort in their life and that they're happy that they see someone who is like themselves. That is something I wish I could have had when I was younger,” she said. “It gives me fulfillment. Participating makes me feel that I'm doing my part of leaving my legacy behind by helping other queer kids. It's really all around just building acceptance.”
Queen Persephone describes the event as an inclusive, friendly and accepting event – and it’s not just the LGBTQ community who attends. Many families participate in the days events as well.
“During my three years of working the festival, I have never come across a disgruntled person. I haven't seen any protesters, which is surprising to me. We get a lot of families. We get a lot of kids that come to the festival, a lot of teenagers, a lot of children with their parents…it's a whole family affair,” she said.
- 11 a.m. – Joycon
- 11:30 a.m. – Houston Pride Band
- 12 p.m. – Joseph Staley
- 12:30 p.m. – H-Town Kings and Barry Mii Dandy
- 1 p.m. – Tammi Wallace
- 1:15 p.m. – Laisha LaRue and Muffy Vanderbilt
- 1:45 p.m. – H-Town Kings
- 2 p.m – Roxanne Collins
- 2:30 p.m. – Alyanna IV Bones and Hun’ee B
- 3 p.m. – Reign LaRue
- 3:25 p.m. – Uncle Tino
- 3:45 p.m. – Lila Dubois and Hugh Dandy
- 4 p.m. – Kevin Nguyen
- 5 p.m. – Festival Close
Immediately following the festival finale, an official afterparty will be held at The Westin at The Woodlands, including its restaurant Sorriso Modern Italian Kitchen and its Como Social Club.
Como Social Club is available to guests over 21 and will include the special Absolute Pride cocktail. A portion of the proceeds from that cocktail will be funneled to The Woodlands Pride Festival. Live music by American Idol’s Anilee List (Top 24 from Season 19) starts at 9 p.m.
Sorriso is open from 5 – 10 p.m., and it will offer a complimentary appetizer with a purchase of an entree or pizza to everybody that attended pride. Chef David Buckley has created a signature dessert: a pride gelato and rainbow biscotti, which comes in three different types of gelato and sorbet along with a house made rainbow cookie. Or go wild and patron both venues for a mix of dinner and drinks.
“For us, it's really important that we partner with The Woodlands Pride Festival. It's right down the street from us, so it's a natural logistical decision, but also we want to make sure we do everything to support this growing entity in The Woodlands. It really aligns with our values as a company, it aligns with our community, and it is something that makes our community really strong here in The Woodlands,” said Kelly McCourt, director of marketing for the hotel. “Making sure that we embrace the diversity around us and celebrate love is really what the festival is about. For us as a Westin brand and for our food and beverage partners, we want to make sure that we are connecting with inclusivity and creating a diverse neighborhood.”
Since pride is not a once-a-year event but rather a daily event, The Westin at The Woodlands plans to continue hosting quarterly events, including dinner and wine gatherings to nurture the relationship.
(Perhaps the best news of all - other than the daylong celebration of love in all its forms - is that the events are scheduled in October instead of the blistering heat of June. That's just some food for thought, Pride Houston, Inc.)
The Woodlands Pride Festival takes place 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday at Town Green Park, 2099 Lake Robbins. For more information, visit thewoodlandspride.org. Free. The afterparty at The Westin at The Woodlands, 2 Waterway Square, is free to attend for festival attendees. Mahoney's Texish Bar & Restaurant, 24 Waterway, is free to attend plus the cost of food and beverages.