Over the past few months, you may have noticed that we’ve spent a considerable amount of time trimming our rear at the center. While this is a common post-holiday habit for people who’ve consumed the usual abundance of holiday foods, it wasn’t extra calories we were eliminating. Instead, volunteers orchestrated the complete demolition of the poorly-constructed addition near our parking area in the back.
This was an important project for a variety of reasons. The building was in complete disrepair & was leaking severely. Mold had taken over, & the smell was seeping into our meeting area. It would have taken a significant financial investment to salvage this space at all, but there was no reason to save it. It was not historical or particularly valuable.
In advance of the demolition work, we had to prepare the space. Power & telephone lines had to be relocated. Once this was completed, we began the ‘fun’ work.
First, volunteers cleaned out the materials which had been stored in the structure. While some of this was disposed, much of it was salvaged for repurpose or recycling. Huge vintage timbers, boxes of ceramic tiles, & other items were able to find new homes. We carefully removed the embossed tin siding as it is valuable & can be repurposed or sold.
After the space was emptied, we exposed all of the boarded-up windows & doors so that we could get some light inside. This was a huge help later.
Next, we removed the roof in sections. This was hot & dirty work. For a few of our volunteer sessions there were outdoor heat advisories, but our volunteers were committed to seeing the project through before winter weather arrived. Once the roof was removed, we took down the walls.
Finally, we jackhammered the poured concrete floor. We are in the process now of removing the stone that we broke up. The gas company relocated the improperly installed gas lines, & they also upgraded the meter after determining that it was also incorrect for our building.
Once we finish the last bit of clean-up, we will immediately recognize the extra parking places that have been created by the demolition. The center is also safer, more compliant, & definitely more attractive.
This project wasn’t pretty or easy, but it was rewarding. I appreciate the donation of time & resources provided by Connie, Sheryl, Hoss, Larry, Andrew, Fred, Jason, Emily, Josh, & Mackenzie. Their dedication to improving our center is obvious in the excellent work they did for this project. THANK YOU!
For more information about other volunteer opportunities to improve the center, please reach out to Judi or me. There’s a lot more we can do, especially now that we have started to receive some grant funds for these types of projects.
Grass Fed Cinema, run by filmmaker John Scott, released their latest documentary film on Thursday.The newest film, The Slower Path, features Spencer Pride.Grass Fed Cinema is a website that produces documentary films about interesting, unique, and inspiring people who call the midwest home
Scott discovered the Spencer Pride Festival through his friends who attended the event every year.
“I knew right away that Spencer Pride would be a great topic for a short film,” said Scott.“Just the visual alone of a gay pride festival taking place on a courthouse square of a small town in Indiana was really appealing to me.”
Scott attended the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival in June, where he filmed the documentary.
Scott described his experience:“I think the most surprising thing about the festival was the overall size of the event and how the entire town was taking part in it. I thought there would be protest or maybe even just locals looking upset but there wasn’t any of that. There was a vibe of celebration and hope that you could feel throughout the entire town all day.”
Now that his short documentary about Spencer Pride is finished, Scott will move on to his next project. He is focusing on Bike a Bee, in Chicago, IL.
The Slower Path runs approximately 8 minutes in length & features many scenes from the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival.The film can be found at https://youtu.be/F4WCqTlD6aI.
On Sunday, August 5th, fifty-three people came to the commUnity center for Spencer Pride’s Annual General Meeting. The attendees included volunteers as well as individuals from the community who were interested in learning more about the organization’s achievements over the past year.
Lots of refreshments were provided, donated by volunteers & attendees. Four door prizes were drawn throughout the evening. Items included riverboat cruises, a framed print, & two gift baskets from Unity (the retail shop within the Spencer Pride commUnity center).
President Jonathan Balash kicked off the meeting & served as emcee throughout. Several members of the Board of Directors also presented, including Joy Hellman, Jacob Balash, Cathy Wyatt, Judi Epp, & Dana Beth Evans.
After the initial welcome, a special video was shown depicting the activities & events that volunteers participated over the last year. The nearly 5-minute video was set to the song This is Me from the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman. Throughout the video volunteers were shown holding signs that said ‘There’s a Place for Us,” which was a reference to one of the lyrics & served as the perfect tie-in to the general message that Spencer Pride is a place where everyone can feel accepted & celebrated, regardless of how they identify.
Once the video concluded & Kleenex was distributed to aid in the drying of many happy tears, the next item on the evening’s agenda was of a review of major 2018 accomplishments & financial results. This was provided by Jacob, Cathy, & Judi.
The organization’s purchase of the Franklin Street building in October was the largest of the accomplishments, however, there were many others as well.
Attendance at both the Pride Festival & LGBTQ+ History Month event were higher than ever. The participation of downtown businesses, in particular, skyrocketed 143% over last year.
More than 10,500 volunteer hours were logged last year. Using the standard accounting method based on Indiana’s per-hour volunteer rate, this places a value of approximately $220,500 on these hours. 43 individuals volunteered with Spencer Pride for the first time this past year.
The organization received considerable media attention this year. Front cover articles were featured in both the Spencer Evening World as well as the Bloomington Herald-Times. Significant emphasis was also placed on the organization’s inclusion in the annual Boston Pride Guide, which has tens of thousands of hard copies distributed throughout New England alongside hundreds of thousands of views online.
Financially, the organization did quite well. Excluding the purchase of the building & associated improvements (all of which had not been a part of the original budget), the expenses were $443 more than planned & the income was $4,205 more than planned. Based upon what we had expected when the budget was approved last August, these numbers are fantastic.
When including the purchase of the building, expenses were over the plan by $31,326 & the income was $23,155 more than planned. This excludes debt taken on due to the mortgage with OCSB & a note from an anonymous supporter. These will be amortized over the life of the loans.
Although the purchase & investment in the building was not part of the original budget, it was a major accomplishment for the past year. The organization was able to make the investment (utilizing financing from Owen County State Bank) while still maintaining confidence in our ability to sustain ourselves. Almost $19,000 in Rainbow Capital Campaign funds were brought in to support the effort.
FY2018 brought in more income from sponsorships, grants, & donations than any prior year.
Two funds were created with the Owen County Community Foundation (one capital & one sustaining)
After reviewing 2018, elections took place for the addition of Joy Hellman to the Board of Directors and for the affirmation of the existing slate of Officers to continue for another year. The slate included Jonathan Balash as president, Katie Zuber as secretary, & Judi Epp as treasurer. All of the votes were unanimous in favor of these recommendations.
An overview of current & available leadership positions was provided by Dana Beth. The only current open position is the External Events Coordinator. This role will be responsible for the registration & planning for all events that Spencer Pride volunteers attend.
A newly created role, the Outreach Lead, has been filled by Cathy Wyatt. This role will manage how the organization engages & supports other organizations & events.
Next, the discussion focused on 2019 & beyond.
Jonathan discussed changes to the organization’s scope of work, noting that periodically it’s healthy to reevaluate how the organization spends its financial & volunteer resources. At the recent Strategic Planning Retreat, the Board made a few key decisions:
Focusing on one annual event, the Spencer Pride Festival. This is the event Spencer Pride is most well-known for & it has the biggest impact on community engagement. ‘A Night at the Tivoli,’ the organization’s LGBTQ+ History Month film event, will no longer be a public event beginning in 2019. Instead, an appreciation event will be planned at the Tivoli Theatre for volunteers.
Focusing on in-house educational opportunities, such as the recent Substance Abuse 101 training & the upcoming Intersex 101 class on October 15th. Spencer Pride will no longer offer diversity panels beginning in 2019. Similar panels are available locally from other organizations. Spencer Pride volunteers already participate in those other panels so it was get that we were offering something that wasn’t needed.
Focusing on Iris, Spencer Pride’s youth group. Iris is an important part of our organization & will be further invested in to ensure that it continues to be a safe, celebratory place for our youth. The scholarship Spencer Pride has offered for the last 3 years will no longer be available beginning in 2019. Instead, those funds will be utilized to support the higher education pursuits of youth involved directly with Iris.
As a result of these changes, the scope of the organization now encompasses four main areas: the Spencer Pride commUnity center, Spencer Pride Festival, Iris Youth Group, & Outreach.
Strategic Goals for 2019 were outlined. They include:
Promote 50 from 50 campaign (more information about this campaign can be found on our website or by contacting Judi@SpencerPride.org.)
Refine & Manage Outreach Strategy (this will be defined by the Board & managed by the new Outreach Lead)
Invest in Volunteer Engagement & Development
Long-term Strategic Goals were also recently updated to reflect the current direction of the organization:
Be an LGBTQ+ Advocate
Increase utilization of commUnity center
Complete rehabilitation of commUnity center
Cultivate financial sustainability
Support local LGBTQ+ youth
Judi then presented the FY2019 budget, which included $95,549 in income & $78,215 in expenses. The budget was unanimously approved.
And finally, brief updates were given on festival committee opportunities and our upcoming LGBTQ+ History Month Activities.
The meeting concluded at 6:01 PM. Many individuals expressed positive feedback about the event, due to the transparency & depth of the information provided. Individuals were especially touched by the volunteer video.
Each August, we host our Annual General Meeting. Despite the “blah” title, this meeting is a BIG DEAL! We want to show you what YOU have accomplished this year, along with our goals & budget for next year. We’d LOVE it if you would come out & join us!
Date: Sunday, August 5th
Time: 4-6 PM
Location: Spencer Pride commUnity center
– Year-in-Review, including the Financial Summary
– Officer Elections (for vote)
– 1-Year & Long-Term Strategic Goals
– Proposed Budget (for vote)
– Hot Topics (LGBTQ History Month Activities, Festival Committee Sign-ups)
Join your volunteer friends to celebrate the year & see what’s in store for the next, & bring a new friend along!
Do you believe in making Indiana a safer & more welcoming place? Then join Spencer Pride as one of the “50 From 50!”
What is “50 From 50?”
You know Spencer Pride focuses on educating the public about rural lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, & queer (LGBTQ+) people & issues to cultivate a community of compassion & celebration for all people. By having 50 supporters join our fundraising campaign & donate a minimum of $50 a month, it will allow the day-to-day operations of Spencer Pride to continue without extra effort & free up grant & donation funds for expanding our programs & the rehab of our new commUnity center building.
We know you want to see us continue this important work. It couldn’t be easier to help us do that, & your donation is tax deductible!
Just click on the link below, select the Donate Now button in the top righthand corner, then check the repeat monthly box. Fill out the form & your payment information, & you’re all set!
The 2018 Spencer Pride Festival took place this past Saturday in downtown Spencer. An estimated 3,000 people filled the courthouse lawn & adjacent streets shopping, participating in different activities, & enjoying the live, local entertainment from the Ivy Tech Stage. The day was sunny & warm, making it ideal for an early June outdoor event.
COMMUNITY CENTER ACTIVITY PARTICIPATION INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY OVER 2017
The Spencer Pride commUnity center, the local headquarters of festival organizer Spencer Pride, Inc., was open throughout the event & hosted many different activities. 1,400 people entered the doors of the commUnity center that day.
Nearly 30 raffles were drawn in the afternoon, with participation in the raffles doubling from the prior year. The $4200 worth of raffle items were all donated by individuals & businesses in the region, including many of the vendors of the commUnity center’s retail shop, Unity.
Some of the big raffle winners included: Glenda Breeden (hot air balloon ride for 2), Debbie Messer (rainbow Adirondack chair), Sienna Bates (rainbow Adirondack chair), Dan Bixler (2 tickets to James Taylor & Bonnie Raitt concert), Amanda Terrell (overnight stay for 2 at the French Lick Resort, plus $100 food voucher), Jane Rubeck (Cardinal Spirits Distillery Tour & Bottle Set), & Pauline Allan (4 tickets to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum plus A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo Book).
Two 50-50 drawings took place. Nearly $400 in prize money was awarded. One of the recipients was Big Brothers Big Sisters, a local not-for-profit organization.
New this year was “Drag Queen Storytime,” which took place at 2:30 in the afternoon in the commUnity center’s Gathering Place. Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash said that he anticipated only about 10 children to participate in this first-ever event. Much to his surprise & happiness, more than 30 kids took part in the reading.
“Seeing so many youths attentively watching Pat Yo Weave read The Princess & the Pizza was wonderful!” Balash said exuberantly. “So many kids filled the Gathering Place that there was hardly room for their parents. They had to stand at the edges of the room, spilling into both the meeting room & shop.”
Rainbow Crossing guards were attentively standing at the corner of Main Street & Franklin Street all day, ensuring that festival attendees could pass safely across the street to get to & from the commUnity center. Current construction in downtown Spencer has increased the utilization of Franklin Street & Spencer Pride organizers wanted to do everything possible to prevent any accidents. The Rainbow Crossing guards proved to be a big success as there were no safety
incidents that day. The volunteers serving as guards proudly waved rainbow flags as they escorted people along the crosswalk.
FESTIVAL MARKETPLACE WAS EXPANSIVE
The marketplace of festival booths was the largest in Spencer Pride history: 105 organizations participated this year. Most of the food vendors were located in the parking lot of the courthouse. Food vendors included Spencer Main Street, who sold out of their famous barbecue during the festival. Meadow’s Bakery sold fresh pretzels & Geno’s Kettle Corn offered a diverse array of popcorn, including their rainbow mix. There were many vendors offering typical fair foods, like elephant ears & nachos. New this year was a vendor selling vegetarian chili. Nate’s Candy Jar offered a special rainbow fudge to visitors of their booth.
More than 50 booths offered items & services for sale, with the balance of the marketplace consisting of not-for-profit organizations who used the festival to share information about their missions. While there were many vendors who had participated in past Spencer Pride Festivals, there were also many new organizations & businesses represented including Civilian Brewing Corp & Friends of the Forest.
Moon Goddess Arts won the ‘most colorful booth’ prize. Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County won for ‘most engaging booth.’ Festival attendees could be seen wearing rainbow “Safe Place” sunglasses throughout the grounds all afternoon. These were one of the many prizes available at the YSB booth. Both organizations will have their 2019 vendor fees waived due to their efforts this year.
Festival sponsor IU Health Bloomington offered free HIV testing throughout the day. The confidential testing took place at the Tivoli Theatre thanks to a partnership between the theatre & Spencer Pride organizers. IU Health employees were also on hand to answer questions about PrEP, a tool proven highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV.
Cardinal Spirits managed the Pride Lounge for the second year, responsibly serving their locally-made spirits to attendees age 21 & over.
ENTERTAINMENT & OTHER ALL-AGES ACTIVITIES CONTINUE POPULARITY
The main stage of the festival, sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College – Bloomington, featured a diverse array of artists. From the youthful rock of Inkwell Moon to the worldly sounds of Adam Riviere, there was something for everyone this year. The Trip returned for their second year at Spencer Pride, increasing their audience this year due to their growing popularity & recent appearance on Indianapolis television station WISHTV. The Quarryland Men’s Chorus, which has become a Spencer Pride staple over the years, introduced their new director to the crowd. Different Drummer Belly Dancers, The Retrovales, Owen County Civic Theatre, Zumba with Nancy Emerson, & the soulful sound of Window to My Soul rounded out the lineup. Stable Studios provided the high quality sound equipment throughout the day.
The day began with the fourth annual Pet Pride Parade, which included a couple of dozen contestants. “Max’ a furry canine companion, was the winner this year. Max won a basket of goodies donated by Town & County Veterinary Clinic in Spencer.
The culmination of the day’s entertainment was the Ladies of Spencer Pride Drag Show, which hosted 5 queens this year. The Spencer Pride Festival is the only place in the Midwest where a drag show is performed on a county courthouse lawn.
This year, festival organizers re-branded their Market Street family fun area as Camden’s Carnival. The carnival, which was named for the organization’s gender non-binary raccoon mascot, encompassed most of the street to the south of the courthouse. A huge 8-foot tall painting of Camden stood at the center of the carnival, eagerly awaiting photo opportunities with carnival participants. Camden’s Carnival consisted of multiple games, inflatable activities, Aerialogy, & a small vintage auto show. The carnival was a huge hit with the crowd this year which continued to include an increasing number of families. Face painting & the deluxe slip-n-slide were the most popular elements of the carnival this year.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARD PRESENTED
Jacob Balash was presented with Spencer Pride’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by the organization’s leadership. Judi Epp, treasurer & volunteer coordinator, noted that Balash’s contribution was mainly focused on the renovation of the commUnity center.
“Jacob volunteered countless hours to get the center ready for opening. From the day we closed on the purchase of our new building, we had completed the 1st floor renovations within 4 months. Much of that was due to Jacob’s passion & persistence.”
Epp elaborated further: “Jacob worked from morning to night many days, ensuring that we were ready for the next contractor or next phase of work. Our goal was not an easy one to accomplish, but thanks to volunteers like Jacob, we completed the work on time.”
“Spencer Pride is 100% volunteer-fueled, & without the help of dedicated volunteers like Jacob, we wouldn’t be able to do anything,” Epp concluded.
REFLECTING ON THE FESTIVAL
Volunteers at Spencer Pride, Inc., were exuberant with the success of this year’s festival.
“With the growth in attendance this year we saw many new faces & increased participation in our activities,” said secretary Katie Zuber. “Many of the new attendees were young families who have heard about the family-focused & welcoming Spencer Pride Festival. We hope that they enjoyed their first event with us & that this will be the first of many more to come.”
Sponsors of the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival included: Cook Medical, Boston Scientific, Walmart, French Lick Resort, Tivoli Theatre, BloomingOUT, & Spencer Evening World, among many more.
The next Spencer Pride Festival will be held on June 1, 2019, and will be the 13th annual event. Interested individuals are encouraged to stay up-to-date on Spencer Pride’s work by continuing to visit their website and Facebook pages.
Spencer Pride organizers expressed appreciation for attendees, vendors, & sponsors of the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival. It was the best attended & most engaging Spencer Pride event yet.
More information about Spencer Pride and the Spencer Pride Festival can be found at throughout our website.
One sign of the progress that Spencer Pride is making in the local community is certainly the number of downtown businesses who have chosen to participate in the festival marketplace. When we first began our festival, that number was zero. Over the years, it has steadily increased. This year, we more than doubled the number of downtown supporters!
Each year, businesses are solicited to participate in our festival marketplace. Businesses with a home in downtown Spencer, however, generally aren’t interested in having a booth on the courthouse lawn since they already have their business nearby. Instead, we approach those businesses with a different offer for participation: for just $25, we will list them on our festival map so that everyone knows that they are supporters of the festival. This helps encourage the thousands of festival attendees to visit these locations. In addition to recognition on the festival map, this year these businesses were also able to get brand-new decals for their shop windows to proudly advertise their support of Spencer Pride.
In 2017, 7 downtown businesses participated in the festival. This year the number jumped to a whopping 17! This is due to both the increasing appreciation of our event as well as the revitalization of the Spencer downtown. The complete list of downtown participants in the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival is listed below.
We really appreciate the support of all of these businesses & strongly encourage festival attendees to visit everyone on the list frequently!
All About You Salon
Brown & Associates
Casida Barber Shop
Civilian Brewing Corp.
Dragonfly Gallery (also a sponsor & donor to our raffle!)
Historic Tivoli Theatre (also a sponsor & donor to our raffle!)
“Remember the Past, Create the Future” is the official theme of the 2018 Spencer Pride Festival. For our t-shirt design this year, we went a step further. It’s not enough to simply talk the talk, but to walk the walk. As a result we appended “Start Now” to the theme & plastered it on the front of the shirt. On the back, to continue with the action-oriented approach, the design reads “I am working to make Indiana a more welcoming place for ALL people.”
This year’s shirt is primarily available in a black v-neck as well as a purple crew neck, in sizes small through 4XL. Some other colors & styles are available in very limited quantities.
The shirts are available for sale now at the Spencer Pride commUnity center for $19.99 each or 2 for $29.99. We expect the shirts to be wildly popular at the festival on June 2.
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
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
Boston Scientific PACE
CARDINAL SPIRITS & PRIDE LOUNGE (21 & over)
Cardinal Stage Company
Civilian Brewing Corp.
Cruise Planners – Naptown Travel
Denise Dyche State Farm
DJ’s Crafts & Sweets
Drunken Bard Creations
E. Thomasina Marili
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.
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.
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 TheTrip 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.
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.
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.
One winner will be chosen in for each of the following age groups:
12 & Under
60 & Over
Entries will be accepted from April 1 – April 30, 2018.
Winners will be chosen by Spencer Pride volunteers on May 6 & notified via Facebook or email.
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!
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.
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.
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.
RESPONSE FROM SPENCER PRIDE’S REPRESENTATIVES
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
CONCLUDING THE CONFERENCE & LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.