Excitement Builds for Festival Marketplace

The Spencer Pride Festival marketplace is bigger than ever this year; it’s also more diverse.  In total, the marketplace consists of 110 organizations & businesses that are spread out throughout the courthouse lawn & adjacent streets.  A complete listing of all vendors participating in this year’s event is located below.

We spoke with several individuals who will be part of this year’s marketplace to understand why they are participating in the event.

Matthew Barron, an author, remembered when he first learned about Spencer Pride years ago: “I used to drive through Spencer on my way from my hometown Washington to Terre Haute or Indianapolis,” he said.  “I was shocked when I heard they had a Pride Festival in little old Spencer!  When I was in school, small-town Indiana was not known for its tolerance.”  Why is Matthew participating again this year?  “I’m always looking for opportunities to sell my writing & want to support the festival,” he notes.  “The festival is not as over-stimulating as the Pride Festivals in the larger cities & I meet such a great, diverse bunch of people.”

In addition to some of his previous books, Matthew will have his brand new urban fantasy graphic novel, The Brute: Chasing Shadows.

Matthew represents one of about 45 of our vendors who will have items or services for sale at the event.  In addition to the retail vendors, there are many not-for-profit organizations that are providing information about their services, many of which are free or reduced cost.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky will also have a booth.  Leslie Montgomery, Regional Education & Outreach Manager of PPINK, explained what festival-goers can look forward to this year.  “We will have our game wheel where people can test their knowledge about sexual & reproductive health,” Leslie explained.  “They will have an opportunity to share their stories about the care they’ve received at PPINK.”

Leslie is looking forward to Spencer Pride this year.  “Spencer Pride is among the best Pride events in the state.  They take good care of their vendors…. The people who visit the table are always friendly, welcoming, & supportive.”  Leslie was honored last year when the PPINK was recognized as the “Most Interactive” booth at the festival.

Becky Brown, who represents the Owen County Humane Society, is excited about participating in the marketplace again this year.  She says that the humane society participates in the festival because “we love supporting our local community and giving our dogs and cats every available opportunity to be adopted into great homes.”  This year the humane society will have information on spay & neutering.  They will also have dogs available for adoption.  Becky recalls one of her favorite memories from a prior festival was watching friend Pam Browning walk a goat around the courthouse while participating in the Pet Pride Parade.

There will also be booths that represent for-profit enterprises, but that are not actively selling anything at the festival.  These organizations are often there to support the LGBTQ community & drive awareness of their brand.

Oscar Saucedo is an employee of Boston Scientific & a member of their employee resource group PACE.  Oscar said that they participate each year in order to support Diversity & Inclusion.  Last year was Oscar’s first year at Spencer Pride (although Boston Scientific PACE has been a supporter for several years).  Oscar found the event “eye opening on how great & family-oriented a small-town pride festival could be.”

At the Boston Scientific PACE booth, there will be information on the organizations D&I program.  There will be medical device information & games.  They will also have an on-site talent acquisition table for community engagement & employment opportunities.

Boston Scientific PACE is also a sponsor of this year’s event.

In addition to the booths in the marketplace, there is a significant increase in the number of businesses downtown that have chosen to advertise as supporters of the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival.  Stay tuned for more information about these businesses on our website.

The Spencer Pride Festival Marketplace will be open from 10 AM until 5 PM on Saturday, June 2.  For more information about the Spencer Pride Festival, please browse other pages on our website.


2018 Festival Vendors (as of May 26th)

ACLU of Indiana
Adam Riviere
All Wrapped Up / Bonefide Creations
Americans United for Separation of Church & State
Area 10 Agency on Aging
Author Matthew Barron
Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Indiana
Bloomington Meadows Hospital
Bloomington PRIDE
Boston Scientific PACE
Cardinal Stage Company
Civilian Brewing Corp.
Cook Group
Cruise Planners – Naptown Travel
Denise Dyche State Farm
DJ’s Crafts & Sweets
Drunken Bard Creations
E. Thomasina Marili
Earth Drops
Eden Connections / DoTERRA
First United Church of Bloomington
French Lick Resort
Friends of the Forest
Geno’s Kettle Corn
Grimnir’s Crossroad Kindred
Indiana Adoption Program
Indiana Crossroads Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Indiana Department of Gender Studies / Kinsey Institute
Indiana Forest Alliance
Indiana Health Centers – Owen County
Indiana Stonewall Democrats
Indiana Youth Group
Indy Pride, Inc.
Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce/JB Screening, Inc.
IU Health & Wellness
IU Health Bloomington – Positive Link
Ivy Tech Community College – Bloomington
Judah Concessions / BellyBuster
Laci’s Bags
Larry Harris Quilts
LifeJourney Church
Meadows Bakery
Microblading by Michele
Middle Way House
Monroe Co. National Organization for Women (NOW)
Moon Goddess Arts
Nate’s Candy Jar
National Youth Advocate Program
Newton’s Legacy Woodworking & Engraving LLC
No Rain No Rainbows
Osmon Chiropractic Center
Owen County Civic Theatre
Owen County Democratic Party
Owen County Extension Homemakers
Owen County Humane Society
Owen County Progressives
Owen County Public Library Bookmobile
Paws-Abilities, Inc.
PFLAG Hanover/Madison
Pink Zebra
Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky
Press Puzzles
Pride Lafayette, Inc.
Prism Youth Community
Proudly Vegetarian
Putnam Pride Initiative
Quarryland Men’s Chorus
Right on Q Concessions
Rye’s Concessions
Silky’s Specialty Items
Spencer Evening World
Spencer Main Street
Stable Studios
Sue Westhues
SuPaca Farms, LLC
The Back Door
The Well Armed Woman
This, That, & Mor
Tivoli Theatre
Touch of Nature
Tree Top Terrace Farms
Triple M Concessions
Unitarian Universalist Church
Uplands PEAK Sanctuary
White River Valley PFLAG – Spencer Chapter
Window to My Soul
Wired Whymsy
Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County

Spencer Pride Festival Approaching!

On Saturday, June 2, the family-friendly Spencer Pride Festival returns to downtown Spencer. This year’s event marks the 12th annual Spencer Pride Festival.  This family-friendly & admission-free event is sponsored by Cook Medical, Boston Scientific, IU Health Bloomington, area Walmart stores & many other local businesses & organizations.

The event, while known as a rural LGBTQ+ pride festival, is open to everyone.  “We welcome all to join us in celebration of our community & its diversity,” says Jonathan Balash, Spencer Pride’s president.  “The festival is an inclusive event for everyone, regardless of how they identify, who they love, how much money they make, or where they live.”  The Spencer Pride Festival is most well known for it’s family-focused activities in a small town setting.

Rex Hinkle, President of Cook Aviation & Spencer Pride Director, is looking forward to the festival & is pleased with the organization’s success.  “I am so proud to be a part of Spencer Pride.   We have done so much within the community & surrounding areas in service of our mission, which is focused on education of LGBTQ+ issues,” said Hinkle.

Hinkle is also a member of the Quarryland Men’s Chorus, a very popular group that is returning to Spencer Pride again this year. The chorus’s set is one of many performances in this year’s all-day line-up of live entertainment on the Ivy Tech Stage. Several other prior year’s performers will be returning as well, including the Different Drummer Belly Dancers, Retrovales, Window To My Soul, The Trip, and others.

The annual pet parade will kick off the festival’s line-up of performances & will begin at its newly scheduled time of 10 am. The public is invited to bring pets, or be in attendance to cheer them on, as these fabulous fashionistas strut their stuff, with their fur-less human companions in tow, around the courthouse for a funny, furry, & lighthearted show to start to the day.

Adam Rivière will take the Ivy Tech stage by storm with his worldly sounds that will both educate & entertain. “Music was created to celebrate community, and I get that opportunity at Spencer Pride, which makes playing for such wonderful people and a great event all the better!”

Owen County Civic Theatre will be taking the stage at 1pm, giving everyone a taste of their upcoming musical, “Grease,” with local band, Inkwell Moon, scheduled to perform afterward.

The “Ladies of Spencer Pride” Drag Show will take place at its usual time of 4pm. The Spencer Pride Festival is the only place in the Midwest where a drag show takes place on the lawn of a county courthouse and is a crowd favorite. A new event, “Drag Queen Storytime,” will be offered in the Gathering Place at the commUnity center, with special guest Pat Yo Weave, at 2:30pm.

A highlight of the festival each year is the marketplace of vendors. This year’s marketplace will not disappoint as it will be the largest ever for the festival. Over 100 vendors of all kinds will be selling items, cooking up tasty treats & distributing information to attendees. 2500 people are expected to attend this year’s event, maintaining the healthy attendance seen from last year’s celebration.

As always IU Health Bloomington will be providing free confidential HIV testing throughout the day.

Camden’s Carnival will be loaded with great options, including a bounce house, toddler town, an all-ages deluxe slip-n-slide, the new addition of games & more! Bloomington Aerialogy will be returning to perform & give aerial silk lessons all afternoon.

The new Spencer Pride commUnity center will be open during its usual hours from 10 am until 7 pm that day.   On May 22nd Spencer Pride was given the Annual Preservation Award from local civic organization Owen County Preservations.  The award was due to the organization’s establishment of the Spencer Pride commUnity center in the historic I.O.R.M. Lodge building in downtown Spencer.

During the festival, the commUnity center will be offering its typical fantastic selection of unique items made by local artists and craftspeople. As a special treat for attendees, the commUnity center will also be the hub for the many items being raffled off during the event. An overnight stay for 2 at French Lick Resort, plus breakfast and a spending spree is just ONE of the many amazing items in the raffle.   There will also be 50-50 drawings throughout the afternoon.

Taking into consideration the increased traffic on Franklin Street due to road construction, pairs of volunteers are teaming up to serve as Rainbow Crossing Guards to ensure safe crossing for festival goers to and from the commUnity center the day of the event.

The festival is an event coordinated by Spencer Pride, Inc. Spencer Pride is a 100% volunteer-led 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization established in 2007. Volunteers are responsible for everything that the organization does.   Between setup, the festival, & cleanup, volunteers have already committed more than 500 hours to this year’s event. This does not include the hundreds of hours required to plan the annual festival.

All of this keeps volunteer coordinator Judi Epp quite busy.  “It’s hard, but fulfilling work,” says Epp.  “I feel like the luckiest person in the organization because I get to interact with so many wonderful people.”

The mission of Spencer Pride is to make Indiana a more welcoming place for all people, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.    For more information about the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival or the other work of Spencer Pride, Inc, browse other pages within our website.

The Deets about Our 2018 Entertainment


In April the lineup of entertainment for the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival was announced.  This year’s entertainers on the Ivy Tech Bloomington Stage include past favorites & hot new talent as well.  With the festival now less than 2 weeks away, we wanted to provide a further glimpse into who we have on stage this year.

Moving from its traditional mid-day time to kick off this year’s event will be the Spencer Pride Pet Parade.  This furry, funny, light-hearted event is expected to include dozens of local pets & their fur-less human companions.  At 10:30, attendees will be encouraged to get up and participate in Zumba with Nancy Emerson.  The adrenaline won’t be slowing down when the Different Drummer Belly Dancers take to the stage at 11:00, either.

Having been unable to attend last year’s festival, Adam Riviere returns to the stage again this year with his worldly sounds that will both educate & entertain. “Music was created to celebrate community, and I get that opportunity at Spencer Pride, which makes playing for such wonderful people and a great event all the better!” says Adam.  We asked him what has been memorable for him about participating in the Spencer Pride Festival.  Besides the other performers & diverse marketplace, Adam’s answer was simple: “what sticks out the most is the joy everyone has being a part of it.”  He continues, “The connections everyone makes being at Spencer Pride are tremendous.  I hear vendors mentioning how much they achieve being there compared to other events due to the strong community – I couldn’t agree more!”  He wasn’t about to give us a preview of what we should expect this year, however.  “Why ruin the surprise?” he teases.  “But, I will say get ready for some extra shimmy in your near future!”

At 12:30 Window to My Soul will take stage.  This act features Kali Bentley, a young talent who has been a popular act at the festival for a few years.  Kali performs at Spencer Pride “because it’s a festival that celebrates love, life, & acceptance.”  She recalls a particular moment the first year she performed at Spencer Pride, when she sang an original song titled “Savanna.”  The song was about losing a friend to a car crash.  “After my set,” Kali remembers, “someone in a wheelchair visited me at my booth and spoke to me about how they connected with it.  They’d also been in a similar situation.  It was honestly so difficult not to cry.  They gave me hugs and on their way.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.”  Many people who heard her sing “Savanna” undoubtedly felt the same way.


This year, the audience can look forward to some new music from Kali.  She will be singing “A World So Lost,” which is a “commentary on how we cling to anything to make us feel whole, without realizing that we are already whole & perfect the way we are.”

Owen County Civic Theatre will be taking the stage by storm at 1:00, hopefully giving everyone a taste of their upcoming musical, “Grease.”  This local group performs multiple plays & musicals each year at the historic Tivoli Theatre.

At 1:30 The Retrovales will be front & center.  This duo includes SarahJayne Balash, who has been involved in the entertainment lineup as both a solo performer as well as part of The Retrovales.  Why has SarahJayne returned so many times? “I’m very thankful to be able to create & do what I love, something that comes so naturally to me, without any prejudice or question,” she says.  “There are people in the world who don’t have that privilege, so if I can share my craft for an event that does so well to bring light to those people, fighting for their fair treatment, then I want to be there.  It’s important to me.”

The Retrovales plan to sing a variety of music this year, including their recently release EP called “Ghost.”  The EP “documents the emotions that surround loss – sadness, hope, anger, etc. – & we’re going to play some of the tracks this year at the festival along with some of our more popular tracks from our previous album & a Britney Spears cover.”  SarahJayne looks forward to the Spencer Pride Festival each year, but has a special place in her heart for the drag show.  “That’s usually my favorite,” SarahJayne recounts.  “The fact that they are able to incorporate people of all ages into such a fun performance is wonderful.”

Inkwell Moon is a new group at the festival this year.   The group is a post-hardcore band from the Spencer/Bloomington, Indiana area that has been together for about 6 months.  They are participating this year because they want to give the crowd a great performance & show their support of Spencer Pride & the entire LGBTQ community.  For a sneak peak of what to expect, search Inkwell Moon on any streaming platform to hear their latest EP, “On The Corner Of Isolation & Smooth Ground.”  Inkwell moon will be performing at 2:00 PM.

Spencer Pride wouldn’t be the same without the ever-popular & entertaining Quarryland Men’s Chorus.  These boys know how to make a crowd smile, laugh, cry, & feel loved.  Quarryland Men’s Chorus will be taking over the courthouse lawn at 2:30 PM.  The June afternoon is expected to be hot, but these guys will really be bringing the heat when they begin to sing.

At 3:00 The Trip will be bringing their energy to the festival.  This is The Trip’s second time performing at the Spencer Pride Festival.  Their debut at the event in 2017 was well-received & many people voiced their interest in seeing them back in 2018.

Last, but never the least, the Ladies of Spencer Pride Drag Show will begin at 4 PM to round out the day’s talent.  These ladies will bounce, wiggle, vogue, shake, & saunter throughout the audience making sure that EVERYONE is a part of the moment.  No one needs a royal wedding when these queens take stage & captivate the crowd.    This year’s performers will include: Cassidy Fellows-Sommers, Pat Yo Weave (who is also leading Drag Queen Storytime in the Spencer Pride commUnity center at 2:30 that day), Tia Mirage Hall, Ben Dovah Plenti, & Kassia Brookes.

2018 Festival Entertainment

We are very excited to announce the entertainment lineup for this year’s festival.  The lineup of diverse entertainers includes some crowd favorites, such as Quarryland, plus some new exciting performances, such as Inkwell Moon.   All of the entertainers are family-friendly, so plan to spend the entire day enjoying what these entertainers have to offer.


“Color the County” Contest Underway










Yesterday, we announced an exciting contest for April.  This contest is intended to help promote our beautiful county & encourage individuals to get out & enjoy it this Spring.   Prizes worth hundreds of dollars will be distributed to winners in multiple age categories.

How do you participate? 

1. Color a page of one of our coloring books (either the Spencer or Owen County Books). 
2. Take a selfie (or have someone take a picture of you) with the page on location (at the site of the image you chose)
3. Post the pic on Facebook and tag @Spencer Pride OR email the image to Jonathan@SpencerPride.org. Be sure to include your name and age with your submission.


  1. One winner will be chosen in for each of the following age groups:
    • 12 & Under
    • 13-19
    • 20-59
    • 60 & Over
  2. Entries will be accepted from April 1 – April 30, 2018.
  3. Winners will be chosen by Spencer Pride volunteers on May 6 & notified via Facebook or email.
  4. Multiple entries will be accepted per person.

See below for examples. If you have any additional questions, send us a private message on Facebook or e-mail us at Jonathan@SpencerPride.org.  Thanks!

Spencer Pride Participates in Regional InterPride Conference

This past weekend, volunteers from Spencer Pride attended InterPride Region 4’s conference in Detroit, Michigan.   Region 4 includes the following states:  Minnesota, North & South Dakota, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, & Indiana.


9 individuals attended the conference to represent Spencer Pride. From left to right, they are: Jonathan Balash, Dylan Heaslet, Emily Carol-Black, Judi Epp, Cathy Wyatt, Joy Hellman, Jacob Balash, Kim Fidler, & Luke Brinson.

This was the first InterPride Region 4 Conference in 10 years.  As such, there was a lot of anticipation about what could be gained by attending, but there wasn’t much experience knowing how reasonable those hopes were.  All the attendees representing Spencer Pride were pleased with the conference & were happy to have participated in the event.

This year’s regional conference was hosted by Motor City Pride.  Motor City Pride holds an annual festival in Detroit each year.  In 2017, 35,000 people attended their event.  Other organizations represented at the event included: Saint Louis Pride, Hotter than July, Twin Cities Pride, Ann Arbor Pride, Indy Pride, & more.  Nearly 40 individuals were present at the conference, which took place at the Marriott Renaissance Center.  The site is also the international headquarters of General Motors.

The conference officially began Saturday morning, but the 9 representatives from Spencer Pride made the 5 and ½ hour journey on Friday evening.  While the car ride was long, it was a great kick-off for the volunteers, who spent that time catching up with one another.

The conference began with a welcome from Dave Wait, InterPride Treasurer & Motor City Pride’s event chair.  He then provided an introduction to InterPride.  Dot Belstler from Twin Cities Pride then reviewed proposed changes to the structure of InterPride & solicited feedback from those in attendance.

Belstler then presented Developing a Crisis Management Plan for your Festival, which provided a wealth of information about how to establish an effective strategy for ensuring the safety & security of festival attendees.

The rest of the afternoon was structured around a format called “speed topics.”  Individuals from several organizations presented information on a given topic & then led a discussion with the entire group to learn best practices among the many pride organizations.

Spencer Pride volunteers are show here with representatives from Saint Louis Pride, Motor City Pride, & Twin Cities Pride. Several other groups were also represented at the conference.

Jonathan Balash, Spencer Pride President, presented Engaging All Ages in Pride Festivals during the speed topics.  He described how Spencer Pride isn’t just all-ages & family-friendly, but also family-focused as well.  Conference attendees were highly engaged in this topic.

“I was excited that Spencer Pride was able to have such strong representation at this year’s regional conference,” Balash said.  “The value of meeting face-to-face with representatives from Pride organizations throughout our region cannot be overstated.”

Balash noted that the best way for attendees to get value out of the event was to know how to ‘scale.’

“We have to listen to the larger organizations & scale down what they say to see how it applies to us.  The larger organizations have to listen to smaller organizations, such as ours, & scale it up to apply it to their work.  If anyone is unable to ‘scale’ like this, they will miss out on valuable information that is shared.”

Balash also serves as the regional co-director for InterPride’s Region 4 alongside Belstler.



Attendees representing Spencer Pride were asked what they expected from the conference & what they actually learned there.  Everyone shared a wealth of information & it is apparent that Spencer Pride will gain a lot from having had such a solid representation at the event.

Several of the Spencer Pride attendees are show here at the entrance to the Detroit People Mover. They used this train to get to dinner on Saturday evening.

Cathy Wyatt, long-serving director of Spencer Pride (& recently named National PFLAG Great Lakes Regional Director) wanted to learn best practices that would be helpful to Spencer Pride as the festival expands.  A discussion on safety & security made the biggest impact on her & she plans to invest more thought on that subject.

“I want to think further on how to make safety & security discreet, but effective,” Wyatt said.

Dylan Heaslet also has a renewed focus on safety after having attended the InterPride regional conference.  Dylan is a member of the Spencer Pride Board of Directors.

“I felt that it was an incredibly informative conference where I learned more than I expected,” Dylan said passionately.  “The most valuable takeaway I learned is other organizations’ processes of fundraising & generating sponsorships.”

He also saw very practical things that could be applied to our festival right away, such as the integration of a gaming area to help increase engagement of teenagers at our festival in June.

Joy Hellman serves as Youth Coordinator for the Iris Youth Group.  She was not sure what to expect from the conference, but she wanted to support the group & spend time bonding with her peers on the Board of Directors.  At the conference, she met representatives from Saint Louis’ pride organization.  They also have an LGBT center with a youth group.  Joy is excited to help build a bridge between Iris and Saint Louis’ youth group.

Joy had several other takeaways from the event, including new ways to generate income, engage with youth at the festival, & more.

Luke Brinson is shown here on the Detoit People Mover, a form of public transportation.

Luke Brinson attended the event wanting to understand more about how other, larger Pride events operated.  He felt like he learned a lot about Motor City Pride & Twin Cities Pride.

“While some of that information may not be applicable to our own event,” said Brinson, “there are ways we can interpret their strategies to improve our own festival.”

Luke is the Lead of Iris & took notes on how to increase youth engagement at the festival.

“I truly did not know what to expect with the conference,” said Jacob Balash.

Judi Epp & Jacob Balash are excited to have participated in the regional conference & learned so much.

Balash is a Spencer Pride Director & serves as the Retail Manager for Unity.

“I am so happy that I was invited.  It was a great team-building experience for our volunteers.  I look forward to continuing to develop relationships with our Spencer Pride volunteers as well as the other people we met who work so diligently on their own festivals through the Midwest.”

One of the things discussed at the festival was how to integrate more information & support for individuals in domestic violence situations.  Jacob has returned to Spencer with a mission to get those materials readily available in the restrooms at the center, where individuals can discreetly take them.   Balash was inspired by a discussion led by Ebony Janeen from Saint Louis Pride.

Judi Epp also wants to be sure that we increase our education to help combat domestic violence.

“I went to the conference hoping to share our experiences & learn from what works for other organizations.   My expectations were exceeded,“ said Epp.

Besides the efforts related to domestic violence, Epp also learned valuable new information on fundraising & youth engagement.

Many things were learned throughout the conference, which lasted well into Saturday evening.

Kim Fidler has been a member of the Spencer Pride board for 5 years.  She was very impressed with the content of the event & the value that everyone gained by participating.  She noted a huge list of things that she learned at the event, but the thing that left the strongest impression on her was the discussion on safety.

“I hate that we must consider not just the safety of festival attendees, but also threats such as people driving card into crowds as well as active shooters,” Fidler reluctantly shared.  “I am interested in working on a safety plan for the upcoming festival.  I believe that people appreciate the fact that we not only promote diversity, educate others, and are proactive with legislation, but that we also want them to have an awesome, SAFE experience at our festival.”


The regional conference wrapped up on Sunday morning with a brunch & closing discussion.  Jonathan Balash, as co-director of the region, led those remarks.  The group talked about how to keep connected with one another as well as when & where to host the next regional conference.

Jonathan Balash speaks to conference attendees about creating a ‘family focused’ event.

Spencer Pride was one of 3 groups that volunteered to host the next event, which is tentatively planned for March 2019.

For more information about InterPride, visit www.InterPride.org.  To become involved with the planning of the annual Spencer Pride Festival, e-mail info@SpencerPride.org or show up to one of the monthly volunteer meetings.  The next meeting takes place on Sunday, April 8 from 4 – 6 PM at the Spencer Pride commUnity center meeting room.

Spencer Pride commUnity center Celebrates Grand Opening in Historic I.O.R.M. Building

The Unity Shop is the retail space with the commUnity center. It features items made by local artists. There is also a wide variety of vintage resale items for sale.

Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash and the volunteers of Spencer Pride, Inc., are proud to announce the opening of their new commUnity center, now located at 17 E. Franklin Street in Spencer.  The center is located in the historic Improved Order of the Red Men (IORM) Lodge Building, which was originally constructed in 1898.

“We were elated to have been able to purchase such a prominent downtown building”, said Balash.  “We now have more than 9,000 square feet of space to mold into our biggest dreams for our organization.”

A group of volunteers pose for a quick photo during the moving day on January 28, 2018

“A majority of the demolition and relocation of the retail space was accomplished by our wonderful volunteers,” said Judi Epp, Spencer Pride’s Treasurer.

During 2017, Spencer Pride volunteers logged 6,531 hours throughout the various programs run by the organization, including the commUnity center.  In January of 2018, volunteers donated 1,114 hours, primarily involving their work on the new building.    Volunteers worked to preserve the historic features of the building, while making necessary changes to transform the building into a functioning space for the community.  Volunteer work days were scheduled throughout the last couple of months of 2017. The final moving date from the former location Market Street took place on January 28th, 2018.

Numerous local contractors were also engaged in the work at the new facility.  This was coordinated by Spencer Pride Director & Retail Manager, Jacob Balash.   Work will continue on other areas of the building.  Phase I, which mostly included the transition of existing operations, is now complete.

More Spencer Pride volunteers pose for a photo during the January 28 moving day.

In addition to the onsite work at the facility, the Spencer Pride Board of Directors has been working with Springpoint Architects out of Bloomington, Indiana, to conduct a feasibility study on the structure.  This study will be used to guide the organization in developing the building.  The feasibility study is expected to conclude within the next two weeks.

Phase II, which includes restorative exterior work on the building façade including replacement of all windows & doors,  will be completed during 2018.  A new interior stairwell will also be included within the rear of the center.  During demolition work at the site, a historic stairwell was uncovered.  In order to meet new code requirements, architects aided in designing a new staircase for the space.

Phase III, which includes the restoration of the 2nd story & the development of 3 apartments above the retail and meeting space is slated for 2019. There are 5 phases in total planned for the Spencer Pride commUnity center project.

The commUnity center is now formally finished with Phase I, although many details throughout the space are still being finalized.

The new building solidifies the presence of Spencer Pride in the community.  The organization has been active in Owen County since its establishment more than a decade ago.  Over the course of that time, the organization has evolved in many ways.  The opening of the commUnity center was a major milestone when it originally opened in September of 2016 in a rented space on the south side of the courthouse square.  After their volunteer base doubled and support for the retail store was apparent, plans were assembled to purchase a building downtown that would better serve the organization’s long-term needs.

Volunteers stopped for a moment during the moving day on January 28, 2018.

The new space will be utilized for multiple purposes.  It includes an expanded retail space.  Unity, the retail shop of Spencer Pride, will continue to feature unique items created by local artisans as well as an assortment of vintage resale merchandise.  The center now also includes an informal Gathering Place for community members to come to relax, read a book, work on projects, and more.  The new location also has a meeting room that is now available for free to other local not-for-profit, LGBTQ+ affirming organizations.  Amenities such as two ADA-compliant public restrooms with changing tables are also now available to the public, as well as free Wi-Fi.  Eventually additional services will be offered as the center evolves.

Spencer Pride organizers thank the many individuals who volunteered to make this dream a reality as well as the individuals and organizations who have made donations to help the project.  Spencer Pride has established a foundation and a capital campaign at the Owen County Community Foundation where the funds are being managed.

For more information about Spencer Pride visit www.SpencerPride.org or stop in to the commUnity center Wednesday through Saturday from 10 AM until 7 PM.  Jonathan Balash can be reached via e-mail at Jonathan@SpencerPride.org.


Festival Early Bird Registration Ends on February 24; Organizations Encouraged to Register Now

Organizers of the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival report that registrations for the festival marketplace are already at more than halfway to their goal for 100 vendors.  This is an indication of the strong interest in the 12th annual event, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 2 from 10 AM until 5 PM.  Nearly 100 vendors have participated in the marketplace for the past 2 years.

Organizations interested in registering for the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival are encouraged to do so now so that they can take advantage of the early-bird fee.   This promotion discounts standard registration costs by 50%.

To register in the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival marketplace, visit www.SpencerPride.org/portal.  Registration takes less than 15 minutes.  Early-bird registration ends on February 24th.

During the early-bird registration period, registration fees are $25 for not-for-profit organizations, $40 for for-profit organizations, & $50 for vendors who wish to sell food.  The food vendor fee also includes access to electricity & water.

The 2018 Spencer Pride Festival theme is “Remember the Past, Create the Future.”  Given the recent opening of the Spencer Pride commUnity center in its new permanent home in a historic building on the courthouse square, the theme seems especially relevant.

Individuals interested in assisting with the planning of the festival are encouraged to attend the monthly Spencer Pride volunteer meeting, which takes place on the first Sunday of each month from 4 – 6 PM. The next meeting takes place on March 4.

Festival Theme Chosen at January Meeting

On Sunday, January 7th during our regular monthly volunteer meeting, many important decisions were made about this year’s festival.  Although it was bitterly cold outside & our volunteers are worn out from all of the work occurring to prepare our new building for the upcoming move, those volunteers in attendance were passionate about our festival planning & were eager to keep things progressing.

The first order of business was an update from Jonathan Balash about the current status of the marketplace.  42 vendors had signed up as of the meeting.  Assignments were distributed among volunteers to solicit prior years’ vendors over the course of the next month.  The goal is to have 50 vendors signed up by the end of January.  This goal seemed achievable.

Next volunteers considered the recommendation for this year’s festival theme, which is the official 2018 InterPride theme:  Remember the Past, Create the Future.  Everyone agreed that it was the perfect team considering the work we are currently doing to transform our historic building into the LGBTQ+ center of the future.  The decision to choose this theme was unanimous.

In a brief discussion led by Casey Shively (chair of the festival welcoming committee), it was decided that we would pursue two billboards to advertise this year’s festival.  One would be in Spencer while the other would be in Bloomington.  This is the first time we’ve had a billboard in Bloomington.  We are excited about the awareness it may bring!

Emily Carol Black (chair of the festival activities committee) led the group discussion about the Market Street Family Fun Area.  There was a lot of debate about the pro’s & con’s of having a small carnival-like area this year.  We would continue having a bounce house, slip-n-slide, & one or two other large items/attractions, but otherwise most of the Family Fun Area would consist of the carnival.  Ultimately the group voted to pursue this concept.  This is something that has been discussed for several years, but until relatively recently the volunteer resources required made the carnival prohibitive.  We are grateful to have the support of so many new volunteers over the past two years.  We are finally able to make this work!  It was also decided to pursue having Aerialogy return this year since it was so popular among attendees in 2017.

The next festival volunteer meeting will take place on Sunday, February 4th from 4-6 PM at our new commUnity center at 17 E. Franklin Street.  Anyone interested in being involved with festival planning or any of our other work is encouraged to attend.


Volunteers were very productive at the January meeting



Progress Update on New commUnity center

Volunteers work to remove the sub-flooring in the future Unity space during a Work Day in January 2018

The amount of work undertaken in the past 2 months to transform our new facility into the new home for our commUnity center cannot be overstated.  Masonry, electrical, framing, plumbing, flooring, lighting, painting, demolition, & cleaning have all been utilized in order to prepare the space for our upcoming move.  Countless individuals have been involved in the project including volunteers as well as paid local contractors.

Pictured here are a few photos from throughout the past 60 days.  You’ll see various stages of our work as well as many of the people who have been involved.  Future updates will include additional photos.

Volunteers work on removal of plaster in the future Gathering Place during December 2017.
Volunteers pose for a quick break during a Work Day on Martin Luther King Junior Day

As previously communicated, the short-term plan (phase 1) is to move all of our existing operations from our rented facility at 46 E. Market Street to our newly purchased building at 17 E. Franklin Street.  This move will encompass transition of Unity (our retail store), Safe Place services, & all other elements of our current commUnity center by the end of January.  Once this transition is complete, the new facility will boast everything we currently offer & much more.  Newly added amenities at the new facility will be two ADA-compliant restrooms, an informal Gathering Place, & meeting room.

Volunteers are at the new facility daily in preparation for the completion of this phase.  Most weekends consists of 1 or more workdays where up to a dozen volunteers are assisting in the many things that need to be done.

Long-term plans include complete restoration of the exterior & renovation of the 2nd floor.  Once complete, the 2nd floor will contain 3 rental units intended for elder & other members of the LGBTQ+ community.  It will also have office space that will be utilized to offer a variety of new or low-cost services for the community.  As plans are developed further they will be communicated to the public.

If you are interested in helping out in January with this effort, please contact Marissa Mallo, our volunteer coordinator.  You can reach Marissa via e-mail at Marissa@SpencerPride.org.

Members of a local fraternity came out to help on MLK day
Volunteers from Prism Youth Community came out to help in December
Truman, one of our prized volunteers, was eager to help out with the floors.