There are plenty of activities planned for this year’s Spencer Pride Festival on June 1, in addition to the previously announced lineup of entertainment at two venues. The main activities will be occurring in Camden’s Carnival (Spencer Pride’s family fun area located in Market Street) & the Spencer Pride commUnity center.
When it comes to all-ages fun, nothing will satisfy attendees more than Camden’s Carnival. While Spencer Pride has always had plenty of things to do, the carnival has greatly expanded over the past two years & will continue to do so again this year. In the center of the carnival area Bloomington Aerology will be showing off their aerial silk talents & offering free lessons. Adjacent to this will be several booths which will include carnival games (sponsored by Insurance Pros, LLC). Face painting will be provided by The Painted Lady. Iris Youth Group, PFLAG, & other Youth-oriented organizations will be located in this area as well.
To the west of the carnival games will be the large inflatables. This year the festival will have a rock wall, deluxe slip-n-slide, & bungee run, each one for all-ages. For those 12 & under there will be a bounce house. For the first time, the festival will feature a Touch-a-Truck area, which will include a semi, two law enforcement vehicles, & a fire truck. Weather-permitting, there will be vintage Model A cars & VW beetles.
Adjacent to the carnival, the Pet Pride Parade presented by Elanco will kick off at 3:30 PM. There is no fee to participate in this event & no advanced registration is required. Happy pets of all types who are leashed to a responsible human companion are welcome to participate. Judges will evaluate the pets based on personality, costume, & behavior.
At the Spencer Pride commUnity center, the Choose-Your-Own Raffles will once again fill the meeting room. Thousands of dollars of items are available during the raffles, which will be drawn throughout the day. Tickets are $1 each or 6/$5. Raffle items include jewelry, a speaker system, golf club bag, autographed sports memorabilia, overnight getaways at locations such as French Lick Resort, & much more.
Tickets for a 50/50 drawing will be sold all day. The winner will be selected at 7 pm. Tickets are $5 each or 5/$20. Last year, hundreds of dollars were awarded to the festival’s 50/50 winners.
Drag Queen Storytime, which was a new & wildly popular addition in 2018, is back again this year. It will take place at 4 pm in the Gathering Place of the commUnity center.
“With our expansion of the carnival & doubling of live entertainment this year we expect attendance to increase in those areas,” said Jonathan Balash, Spencer Pride President & the organization’s festival lead.
“Emily Carroll, our Activities Committee Lead, has done an astounding job this year making the festival even more special than it has been in the past. Her devotion to our work is inspiring.”
For more information about the festival, please visit SpencerPride.org.
The entertainment lineup for this year’s Spencer Pride Festival is twice as long but equally as diverse as compared to last year. For the first time, the festival will feature two venues for all-day entertainment. The Ivy Tech Bloomington Main Stage will continue to be the largest venue, located on the south lawn of the Owen County Courthouse in the heart of the LGBTQ+ festival. The Gathering Place of the Spencer Pride commUnity center will serve as a second, smaller venue for 2019.
“We wanted to provide a venue that serves as a more intimate environment for both entertainer & audience,” said Jonathan Balash, Spencer Pride president. “We expect that the Gathering Place will be a popular location for everyone.”
Entertainers scheduled for this year include some returning favorites such as Quarryland Men’s Chorus & Inkwell Moon as well as new Spencer Pride Festival performers Static Rats & Dino. From solo singer/songwriters like SarahJayne to bands like the Trip, from folk to rock, whether guitar or harp, the 2019 lineup offers someone for nearly everyone.
SPENCER, INDIANA – As the number of days remaining until the 2019 Spencer Pride Festival is getting smaller, downtown business support for the event & for organizer Spencer Pride, Inc. is strong & on the rise.
Businesses on the square that wish to express their support for Spencer Pride have an easy way to do so. Spencer Pride offers a special rate for these businesses to become official participants of the festival. This gets their business shown on the festival map & listed online as supporters. Businesses also receive a sticker that can be proudly displayed in a window, if the business desires to do so. In addition, Spencer Pride prints a map of supporting downtown businesses that is displayed year-round in the Spencer Pride commUnity center.
“Individuals visiting our center often ask us what businesses in the downtown area support us. They want to show them support in return,” says commUnity center Retail Manager Jacob Balash.
“Having the map makes that an easy conversation.”
Balash also says that people come in asking for specific types of businesses that are supportive of the organization.
“It’s wonderful to be able to answer their questions by directing them to one or more of our downtown retailers,” Balash continued.
“If they want a coffee shop that supports us, we can give them two businesses within 100 feet of our center.”
Balash is referring to Main Street Coffee & Spencer Coffee House. Both of the businesses will be open for extended hours during this year’s Spencer Pride Festival.
Jaime Sweany, owner of Juniper Art Gallery, is also one of the downtown businesses that support the festival & its parent organization.
“I chose Spencer as the location for Juniper Art Gallery largely because of Spencer Pride’s strong presence & community leadership.” Sweany said.
“I support the mission and work of Spencer Pride 100% & believe that embracing & celebrating diversity is essential for peace to prevail on this magnificent planet we all call home.”
Juniper Art Gallery is located at 46 E Market Street in the original location of the Spencer Pride commUnity center (before the LGBTQ+ center relocated to its permanent home at 17 E. Franklin Street).
Festival attendees may be surprised to find that many of the downtown businesses are offering products directed to the LGBTQ+ community & their allies.
“A few years back The Dragonfly Gallery started offering merchandise, such as greeting cards & wedding gifts, geared at same-sex couples,” explained Judi Epp, a member of Spencer Pride’s board of directors. She went on to explain how many people came to Spencer Pride volunteers to express how shocked they were to find such supportive businesses in Spencer. For Epp & others in the Spencer community, it’s not so surprising anymore.
“We have so many welcoming people here in Owen County. That’s why we’ve become so well known for such a fabulous festival every June.”
In total, more than 20 downtown businesses have chosen to be included on the 2019 festival map. That is the vast majority of businesses in Spencer’s downtown.
“As a lifelong resident of this community, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to see this type of visible support from our wonderful businesses downtown,” declared Cathy Wyatt, also a member of the board of directors.
“Through our work with Spencer Pride we’ve seen such positive change in our community over the years.”
Spencer’s downtown is in the midst of a great revitalization. This began in 2013, with the restoration & re-opening of the historic Tivoli Theatre. Since then, new businesses are cropping up on the square every year. In the past year alone, Spencer has seen the addition of Juniper Art Gallery, Spencer Coffee House, & most recently, the Civilian Brewing Corps. All three of those businesses are supporters of Spencer Pride. The Tivoli Theatre is also a supporter of Spencer Pride, who has a monthly volunteer night at the theatre & sponsors multiple events at the venue every year.
“The Tivoli is the true jewel of our downtown,” says Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash, who is Jacob’s husband.
“By showing support to one another, we help each other grow. We firmly believe that every business downtown is vital in making our community stronger. Knowing that they are supportive of the LGBTQ+ community means a lot to area residents & visitors.”
Jamie Sweany, went on to further explain her appreciation of Spencer Pride & the Spencer community as a whole: “It makes me proud to be part of an open-minded, progressive community that is working hard to bring more love and justice to the world.”
Ben Williams, owner of Civilian Brewing Corps., attributes some of the town’s success to Spencer Pride.
“Spencer’s downtown area is in the midst of a major comeback. I truly believe that it couldn’t have happened without the Spencer Pride organization,” said Williams.
“The Spencer Pride commUnity center & festival are not only helpful & enjoyable, but they show that the town is moving in a positive direction.”
The brewery, which officially opened to the public on March 3, had a ‘soft opening’ for the Midwest Pride Conference on March 2, to support Spencer Pride’s strategy of including as many local businesses as possible in the 3-day event. The conference was a huge success, in part, because of the support of business owners like Williams & his wife.
Civilian Brewing Corps. will be selling beverages at the festival for those 21 & older.
Marce King, Executive Director of the Owen County Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Corporation, is excited about the revitalization of the downtown & business support for Spencer Pride.
“Owen County is a growing community! The citizens of Owen County understand that working together, communication, & caring about one another is what brings growth & strength to a community,” King stated.
“Spencer Pride plays an active role in working towards these goals.”
The current listing of supporting downtown businesses (this refers only to those businesses directly on the Owen County Courthouse Square) includes:
Axis Apparel Co.
Brown & Associates
Casida Barber Shop
Civilian Brewing Corps.
John J. Fuhs, Attorney at Law
Main Street Coffee
Our Community Bank
Owen County Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Corporation
Owen County Community Foundation
Playhouse Toys & Games
Spencer Coffee House
Spencer Evening World
Sweet Owen Visitors Bureau
The Dragonfly Gallery
Unique Hair Designs
Watts Law Office
West & Co.
Festival attendees are strongly encouraged to visit the supporting businesses that are open during the festival on Saturday, June 1st.
SPENCER, INDIANA – The 13thannual Spencer Pride Festivalwill take place on Saturday, June 1st.Thewell-known rural LGBTQ+ pridefestivalis the largest event held on the square of the Owen County Courthouse. This year’s festival will take place at a new time: noon to 7:00 PM. The change in time is meant to capture a wider audience, especially those who work during the daytime on Saturday. Admission & parking for the festival are both free & the public is invited to join in the festivities. The event is entirely “-focused” according to its organizers.
“Family-focused means thatitsnot just tolerant of all ages, but that there are things to engage individuals of all ages as well,” said Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash. “It’s important to us that families can come & spend the day in downtown Spencer without certain members of the family getting bored. At Spencer Pride, we have something for everyone.”
The Spencer Pride Festival includes live entertainment throughout the day. This year, live entertainment will be featured on the Ivy Tech main stage on the courthouse lawn as well as in the Gathering Place of the Spencer Pride commUnity center, which is located at 17 E. Franklin Street adjacent to the courthouse. In total, the 2019 Spencer Pride Festival offers 14 hours of live musical entertainment, entirely free for festival attendees to enjoy. The festival has an eclectic line-up of entertainers, from local bands Inkwell Moon and The Trip to singer/songerwriterslikeSarahJayneand Window to My Soul. Other entertainers include Quarryland Men’s Chorus, Dino,&Ktea. The annual Spencer Pride drag show will take place at 6:00 PM, however individuals interested in drag should plan to be at the festival by 5:30 to see the inaugural Spencer Pride amateur drag show.
The Spencer Pride Pet Parade, presented by Elanco, will kick off at 3:30 PM. All pets are welcome to attend alongside their leashed, & well-mannered human companions. This will be the fourth year of this event, which includes a short walk or “parade” around the courthouse before wrapping up on the Ivy Tech main stage on the south lawn.
In addition to entertainment, the festival will feature a large marketplace including more than 110 booths. Marketplace vendors include retailers for shopping & organizations for learning. Vendors will be spread throughout the courthouse lawn on all four sides, plus Market Street & eastbound Franklin Street. A huge array of food vendors will be available to serve attendees everything fromsnocones& fried pickles to tenderloin sandwiches & Bavarian pretzels. Civilian Brewing Corps & Cardinal Spirits will be selling alcoholic beverages in the Pride Lounge, located on the south lawn for responsible drinkers 21 & older.
Local businesses such as Boston Scientific & Catalent Biologics will be on hand to share information about available job opportunities in the region. IU Health Positive Link will be providing free HIV Screening. Ivy Tech will be staffing the First Aid Station, newly relocated onto the courthouse lawn for 2019.
Camden’s Carnival, which is the festival’s family fun area located on Market Street, willhouse a variety of games, inflatables, & activities for all-ages. Most popular among the inflatables is the deluxe slip-n-slide, which is a must-do on a hot June afternoon. BloomingtonAiriologywill be returning to the carnival again this year to demonstrate their aerial silk performances & to provide free lessons to those interested in learning about the fascinating skill of working with aerial silks. The Spencer Pride Youth group Iris, who recently held an alternative prom attended by more than 80 LGBTQ+ & ally youth from throughout south central Indiana, will have a booth in the carnival for youth to hang out & learn more aboutthatgrowing part of the Spencer Pride organization.
One of the most engaging activities each year are the “choose-your-own raffles” which feature thousands of dollars of items for just $1 per raffle ticket. The raffles willbe located inthe meeting room of the Spencer Pride commUnity center for the second year in a row. Also located in the commUnity center will be official Spencer Pride merchandise, including limited edition 2019 t-shirts with a design created by local artist Grant Shorter. Of course, Spencer Pride’s retail shop, Unity, will also be open throughout the event. Unity focuses on selling locally made items from within Indiana. It has becomeaintegral part of the shopping experience in downtown Spencer, along with the Dragonfly Gallery & the recently opened Juniper Gallery, both of whom are supporters of the Spencer Pride Festival. Outside of the Spencer Pride commUnity center, the organization’s volunteers will be selling rainbow pride merchandise,snocones, & cotton candy (also known as “fairy floss”).
Other activities such as 50-50 drawings & random giveaways will take place throughout the duration of the event.
Pride festivals have a rich history within the civil rights movement of the LGBTQ+ community. Spencer Pride’s event offers a special blend ofdiversity & celebration that is less commonly associated with rural communities in conservative states like Indiana. The Spencer Pride Festival is the largest rural LGBTQ+ gathering in the state of Indiana & it is the largestsmall townpride event for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, & queer community in the Midwest. Spencer Pride attracts visitors from throughout thetheMidwest & beyond.
Spencer, Indiana is a small rural community of approximately 2,400 people.It is located 17 miles west of Bloomington & the beautifulcampus ofIndiana University.For thirteen years, Spencer has become more & more known for its passionate LGBTQ+ & ally community. The small town, once known as a conservative riverside community, is now a rural mecca for LGBTQ+ people & their supporters. In 2018, the Spencer Pride Festival brought more than 3,000 people out in celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, more than doubling the size of the town itself.
The organization is proud of the growth of their event, the wonderful community that supports it, & the attendees thatpassionately attend each year.
“Eat some fried food, shop the marketplace, cool off in the slip-n-slide, & dry off on the lawn while enjoying the talents of amazing musical entertainers,” began Judi Epp, one of the organizations’ founders, “What is not to enjoy about Spencer Pride, one of the most fabulous summer festivals in Indiana?”
Spencer Pride is 100% family-focused & welcomes individuals of all ages & backgrounds. Regardless of how you identify, you are welcome at Spencer Pride for a full-day of free, family fun!
The 2019 Spencer Pride Festival is sponsored by Walmart, Boston Scientific, Catalent Biologics,C.H. Douglas & Gray Wealth Management, IU Health, & many more organizations. The historic Tivoli Theatre, WFHB, & Limestone Post are among its media sponsors.
For more information regarding Spencer Pride, Inc., please visitwww.SpencerPride.orgor send questions toinfo@SpencerPride.org. You can also find us on Facebook (SpencerPride), Twitter (@SpencerPrideInc), & Instagram (@SpencerPrideInc& @SpencerPrideYouth).
Within weeks of the failure of the Indiana State Legislature to pass comprehensive hate crimes legislation, the home of two of Spencer Pride’s founders was the target of several incidents of hate-driven trespass, vandalism, & theft.
Spencer Pride President Jonathan Balash, his husband Jacob, & 6-year old son live south of the town of Spencer in a home they have lived in for the past 10 years. The married couple, who have been together for 18 years, have resided in Owen County since 2001.
The incidents were described on Jonathan’s Facebook page on April 10 and 13. The couple state that on four occasions during the same week, individuals trespassed on their land with the intent to remove the pride flag that had been proudly flying alongside their rural country road. The Facebook posts can be viewed here & here.
During the first few incidents, the perpetrators attempted to force the Balashes’ flagpole down by wrapping the pole with a steel chain and pulling it with a heavy-duty vehicle. This proved challenging due to the robust installation of the flagpole, which had been completed mindful of the fact that it could become a target.
According to an affidavit filed with the Owen County prosecutor by the Owen County Sheriff’s Department, the effort to bring down the flagpole ultimately failed when the vehicle’s bumper was torn off. While the pole did not come down, it was damaged significantly. Damage to the pole & the adjacent limestone wall has been estimated to cost $4,300. A few days later, the same location was targeted again. This time, the flagpole’s rope was cut & the flags were removed. The rainbow pride flag was then stolen. A trail cam that the couple had set up to identify the vandals was also taken. All the incidents occurred under the cover of darkness at the couple’s home.
Immediately after the couple posted about the incidents on Facebook, the news of what had occurred traveled around the world & was shared by LGBTQ+ organizations in several countries. Social media support for the couple was very positive. Some individuals responded to the incident by making donations to Spencer Pride in honor of Jonathan & Jacob.
Spencer Pride elected to respond by distributing free pride flags from the Spencer Pride commUnity center, which is located at 17 E. Franklin Street adjacent to the Owen County Courthouse. To date, more than 40 flags have been given out. Most recipients of the flags have volunteered to have their photo taken with the rainbow flag. As a result, rainbow colors are more prevalent than ever in the downtown area & across social media. Since first announcing the flag distribution, the commUnity center has received increased visitors. Many of those guests have attributed their attendance to be as a direct result of the flag distribution, or in general as a gesture of support for the LGBTQ+ community during this time.
THE INVESTIGATION SO FAR
The Owen County Sheriff’s Department is treating the harassment of the Balash home as separate incidents & not as a single effort over multiple days. As a result of this decision, charges thus far have only been filed for criminal mischief & criminal trespass. Both of these crimes are misdemeanors. Theft of the flag & camera, which would be a felony, have not been addressed. While the Owen County Sheriff’s Department’s investigation into the incidents is ongoing, to date only one person has been charged. On one of the evenings where the vandalism took place at the Balash home, the same teens allegedly broke into cabins & stole thousands of dollars in electronics & miscellaneous items, including a firearm. Charges related to that case have also been filed. A preliminary hearing took place on April 18 at the Owen County Courthouse. For more information on this, visit the Bloomington Herald-Timesarticle that was published on April 19.
Several concerned citizens wrote letters to Owen County Judge Lori Quillen to stress the impact of the type of hate-focused crimes that are alleged to have taken place to the Balash home. Judith Epp, Spencer Pride Director, took the position that it is important to respond quickly & with the full force of the law. “Treating this offense leniently sends a message that we don’t take it seriously,” Epp stated in her letter to Judge Quillen. “This isn’t about just one family, it’s about the entire community…Do we have to wait until one of us is personally violently assaulted [before action will be taken]?”
Joy Hellman, Spencer Pride Director & Youth Empowerment Lead, also wrote a letter. Hellman, who has been instrumental in the forming of the Iris Youth Group, wrote her letter emphasizing the impact of this case on local LGBTQ+ youth. “The teens in this group have often spoken to me about not feeling safe due to the hateful acts of other teens. This could be an opportunity to set a precedent, so that LGBTQ teens could feel more safe in their own community,” she wrote.
In total, at least 7 letters were sent to Judge Quillen to raise her awareness of the significance of this event. These letters were sent to Quillen for her consideration during the preliminary hearing of the adult charged with the misdemeanor crimes. To show additional support for the Balash family, approximately 10 local residents attended the hearing as well.
There is no question that this case was motivated by bias against the Balashes, who are a well-known gay couple that are involved in many organizations, most notably Spencer Pride. According to the aforementioned affidavit, Owen County Deputy Mitchell Fleetwood interviewed one of the individuals who confessed to the vandalism of the flagpole. The deputy asked why the teens targeted that specific flagpole. The teen responded by saying that the residents of that home were “Big Time Queers.”
Regardless of this admission by the teen, no action is being taken by the Owen County Prosecutors Office to pursue increased penalties related to these crimes. The recently passed bias crimes legislation in Indiana, which does not serve to adequately define hate-motivated crimes, does not go into effect until July 1, 2019. It is questionable regarding whether the legislation would have enough teeth to be utilized in this type of incident, regardless. The incident has been voluntarily reported to a National Hate Crimes Hotline due to the advocacy of several concerned citizens.
THE COUPLES’ RESPONSE
Jonathan & Jacob are known to be resilient when encountering these types of activities. When their pride flag has been targeted in the past, the couple has repeatedly responded by increasing the size of the flag, adding the flagpole, installing the limestone wall at the base of the flagpole, & other improvements. The couple are vocal about the importance of LGBTQ+ visibility, especially in rural areas.
“We will not be pushed back into the closet by an ignorant Minority,” said Jonathan when asked about their responses to these incidents. “We continue to become more & more visible every time that someone tries to use our home as a target for their hate. Their acts are intending to scare us. We aren’t going to respond to their efforts with fear & anger. Instead, we choose to focus our energy on how to continue our work with Spencer Pride to make Indiana a more welcoming place for all people.”
Jacob is no less passionate about how the couple responds to the acts of hate. He also noted why comprehensive hate crimes legislation is important for Hoosiers. “This was more than trespassing. It was more than vandalism. It was more than theft. This was a concerted effort over several days to violate our property & terrorize my family. It is scary that people would carry out such actions because we are a same-sex household,” Jacob notes.
Jacob went on: “We are proud to live in Owen County & over the past two decades we’ve been overwhelmed by how welcoming our community is. This is where we have decided to raise our son. We aren’t going anywhere.”
In addition to repairing the damage done, the couple is also working to install power at the end of the driveway to support the installation of lights & cameras in order to deter further vandalism & theft. These efforts are challenged by the distance of the mailbox from their home, which is 1/4 mile down the driveway. While the couple works to put these long-term precautions in place, they have added some additional cameras to the space.
Jonathan & Jacob want to emphasize that crimes targeted at the LGBTQ+ community take place every day throughout the world. “This isn’t a Spencer, Indiana, issue. This isn’t a rural issue. This is an issue from the rolling hills of San Francisco to the rolling hills of Spencer,” Jonathan stated.
Jacob immediately added: “We want to raise awareness about this event to serve as an example. Although this did impact us emotionally, we want people to know that it could have been much worse. Around the world right now, people are being bullied, harassed, fired, & even stoned to death for being gay. It has to stop.”
ACTIONS THAT CAN BE TAKEN TO SHOW SUPPORT
Individuals who would like to show their support for the Balashes & other victims of hate-motivated crimes towards the LGBTQ+ community can do so in a variety of ways.
Talk about this incident with people. Share it on social media. Engage with a coworker or neighbor. Bringing visibility to specific incidents like this raises awareness of the need for comprehensive hate crimes legislation.
Proudly display a Pride Flag at your home or business. This tells people that you support the LGBTQ+ community & that you don’t want them to have to stand alone. If you do not own a pride flag, you can stop by the Spencer Pride commUnity center in downtown Spencer for a free one. The organization will continue distributing the flags for free over the coming weeks to help promote awareness of the events & to increase visible LGBTQ+ support in the community. Larger flags are available inexpensively on Amazon & at other retailers.
Make a contribution to Spencer Pride on behalf of the Balash Family. The couple is known to be “Big Time Queers” because of their work with the organization. Making a financial donation to continue Spencer Pride’s work sends the message that we will not be bullied & that we will respond to events like this with more education & visibility.
Become a volunteer with Spencer Pride. Our organization is 100% volunteer-powered & we have a lot of work that needs to be done to further educate our community in support of our mission to make Indiana a more welcoming place for all people.
Attend the upcoming Spencer Pride Festival on June 1st. Participating in the event shows how important LGBTQ+ people are within our community. By attending the festival, you allow Spencer Pride to further our important work.
Spencer Pride will continue to provide updates about this matter. For more information about how you can help Spencer Pride’s mission to make Indiana a more welcoming place, please e-mail info@SpencerPride.org. To learn more about the work of Spencer Pride & to get details about the 2019 Spencer Pride Festival, visit www.SpencerPride.org.
The 2019 Spencer Pride Festival is fast approaching! Vendor registration has been exceeding all prior records. As of April 30, 2019, the following vendors will be participating in our festival marketplace:
ACLU of Indiana
Allie & Tess
Aprons from the Heartland
Big Brothers Big Sisters of South-Central Indiana
Bill’s Rustic Furniture
Bloomington PRIDE (Includes Prism Youth Community; LGBT Aging & Caring Network; TASC)
Bloomington Meadows Hospital
Boston Scientific PACE
Cardinal Stage Company
C.H. Douglas & Gray Wealth Management
Civilian Brewing Corps.
Cruise Planners – Naptown Travel
DJ’s Crafts & Sweets
El Centro Comunal Latino
First United Church
Friends of the Forest
Geno’s Kettle Corn
Grimnir’s Crossroad Kindred
Hope Holistice Massage and Untethered Sole Foot Reflexology
Indiana Adoption Program
Indiana Crossroads Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Indiana Donor Network
Indiana Health Centers – Owen County
IU Health & Wellness
IU Health Bloomington – Positive Link
IU School of Social Work
Ivy Tech Community College – Bloomington
Jack of All Braids
Larry Harris Quilts
Life of Love (LOL)
Mary Kay Skincare
Monroe County NOW
Moon Goddess Arts
My Sunshine Pet Apparel
National Association of Social Workers – Indiana Chapter
New Moon Divination LLC
Newton’s Legacy Woodworking & Engraving LLC
Owen County Civic Theatre
Owen County Democratic Party
Owen County Humane Society
Owen County Public Library Bookmobile
Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky
Pride on the Wabash
Pride Sweets (brought to you by Spencer Pride)
Project Pink Bloc
Putnam County Hospital
Putnam Pride Initiative
Quarryland Men’s Chorus
Right on Q Concessions
Shine Insurance Agency
Silky’s Specialty Items
Simply Divine Suds
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Spencer Main Street
Mark’s United Methodist Church
Stonewall Democrats of South Central Indiana
SuPaca Farms, LLC
Sweet Valley Ice Cream
The Back Door
The Litter Box Kitty Rescue
The Painted Lady
The Satanic Temple Indiana Chapter
The Shucker Shack
Tree Top Terrace Farms
Triple M Concessions
Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington
Uplands PEAK Sanctuary
White River Valley PFLAG – Spencer Chapter
Window to My Soul
Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County
If you are interested in taking part in our festival marketplace, please register today at www.SpencerPride.org/portal.
Note: there are no longer any booth spaces available on the courthouse lawn. All registrations as of April 22, 2019 will be placed on the street in either the food area or carnival area (at the discretion of Spencer Pride, Inc.)
Spencer Pride is set to host the Midwest Pride Conference from March 1-3, 2019. The conference brings together representatives from LGBTQ+ Pride organizations to share best practices, attend training, & network together. Attendees are registered from 6 Midwestern states, including Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, & Minnesota.
“Registration for this conference has exceeded our expectations,” said Jonathan Balash, president of Spencer Pride & the lead for the conference. “Last year’s conference in Detroit brought 37 attendees & we hoped to bring 55 this year; instead, we now have 74 registered participants.” Spencer Pride stopped allowing new registrations once capacity had been achieved. Most of the Spencer Pride Directors & Pride Festival Leads will attend the event as well.
The conference will primarily occur at the Spencer Pride commUnity center, although some educational sessions will occur at the Tivoli Theatre & activities for that Sunday will take place in the Oak Room of Canyon Inn at McCormick’s Creek State Park. Out-of-town attendees will be staying at Canyon Inn.
Some of the conference workshop topics include: Modern Safety & Security at Pride Festivals, How to Have Pride & Make Change in Rural America, Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Pride Festivals, & Inclusion of People of Color in Pride Festivals. There will be a forum on volunteer recruitment & retention, a youth panel, & several “speed topics” segments, which allow for organizations to share best practices with their peers. Speed topics are grouped into themes around such topics as outreach, promoting healthy lifestyles, expanding pride festivities to span a week or month, & “Show Me the Money.” This last theme is focused on increasing event sponsorships or decreasing event costs.
In addition to the educational content of the conference, participants will also be exposed to other local attractions while they are in Spencer. On Friday, March 1, Juniper Gallery, The Dragonfly Gallery, & the Spencer Pride commUnity center retail shop will be open for extended evening hours as a part of a “Shop Local” event. Live entertainment & refreshments will be available at the commUnity center. The new Spring collection will be debuted for the event as well, earlier than was originally planned. Jaime Sweany, owner of The Juniper Gallery, decided to schedule the collection’s debut earlier due to the “Shop Local” event.
Each morning, conference attendees are invited to participate in guided tours at McCormick’s Creek State Park in order to promote healthy lifestyles & show off the area’s most popular attraction.
The Civilian Brewing Corps, a new brew pub in downtown Spencer that is scheduled to open to the public on March 3 will be hosting a ‘soft opening’ on March 2 for Spencer Pride’s guests. It will allow the pub to test out their menu for the public with a more limited audience prior to their grand opening the next day.
Spencer Pride is spreading out their resources to support as many other local businesses as possible. Coffee & refreshments will be purchased from both Main Street Coffee & Spencer Coffee Shop. A local caterer will provide Saturday’s lunch. On Saturday evening, guests will be welcomed for the first public event in the commUnity center’s upstairs ballroom, where beverages from Owen Valley Winery & Cardinal Spirits will be served.
On Sunday, Spencer Pride is excited to welcome State Senator JD Ford as a keynote speaker. Ford, who was elected to the Indiana General Assembly this past November, is the first openly gay member of the IGA.
“This is the first conference that Spencer Pride has ever hosted,” said Balash. “We could not be any happier with the opportunity to host these distinguished guests in our beautiful & welcoming community.”
The following statement was issued from the Spencer Pride Board of Directors regarding two pieces of legislation currently being considered by the Indiana General Assembly:
The Spencer Pride Board of Directors strongly supports the passage of a comprehensive hate crimes law in Indiana. This bill would allow for imposing stronger penalties upon conviction of bias-related crimes against people on the basis of another individual’s actual or perceived age, ancestry, color, creed, disability, ethnicity, familial status, gender identity, military service, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. Indiana is among only 5 states without such legislation.
The lack of a hate crimes law in Indiana has had a negative impact on economic development initiatives and has given Indiana the reputation of not being a welcoming state. This contradicts Spencer Pride’s mission of making Indiana a more welcoming place for ALL people.
Support for hate crimes legislation is bipartisan. Hate crimes legislation is supported by Governor Eric Holcomb. We, as directors of Spencer Pride, encourage all state legislators to vote yes on House Bill 1203 (Bias Motivated Crimes).
The Spencer Pride Board of Directors does not support House Bill 1525 (Biological Sexual Identity), which further exacerbates bias and hate. In addition to creating a poor environment for our youth, this bill would add burdens to our state schools, including new infrastructure requirements & difficult-to-enforce monitoring requirements.
The Spencer Pride Board of Directors urges legislators to vote NO on House Bill 1525.