2018 Festival Entertainment

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


“Color the County” Contest Underway










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

How do you participate? 

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


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

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

Spencer Pride Participates in Regional InterPride Conference

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Theme Chosen at January Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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


Volunteers were very productive at the January meeting



Progress Update on New commUnity center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

commUnity center Update for #GivingTuesday

This post was written by Jonathan Balash, Spencer Pride’s president.  Jonathan can be reached at Jonathan@SpencerPride.org and 812-821-3073.

Close your eyes.

Imagine a small, rural community with a thriving LGBTQ+ community center operating out of a building originally constructed less than 20 years after the end of the Civil War.

Imagine the center regularly filled with people from all walks of life, utilizing the facility in many different ways: Members of the LGBTQ+ community & others are engaging with an all-volunteer staff to access important support services.  Individuals & small groups are taking advantage of public computers & free Wi-Fi in a comfortable, informal gathering place.  Local, LGBTQ+ affirming not-for-profits are regularly utilizing free meeting space to do their important work.  Patrons are shopping at a store which sells items made only by local artists & craftspeople.  Upstairs, members of the aging LGBTQ+ community are utilizing affordable housing with a spectacular view of a revitalized downtown district.  Throughout the facility, everyone feels safe, welcomed, & supported. 

Imagine these things & much more. 

Now open your eyes.

Front of Building November 2017

Here we are.  We are Spencer Pride in rural Spencer, Indiana.  Population 2,214.   We are restoring & improving the historic I.O.R.M. building located in the heart of our downtown.  Visit the building & you’ll find us working to create a full-fledged LGBTQ center that will allow that vision to come to fruition.

We have been working in our community for the past 11 years & have established a reputation of professionalism, service, & a commitment to the betterment of our community.  For the past year we have been operating a successful LGBTQ+ center in a small, rented space on the courthouse square, across the way from our newly purchased building. We’ve shown our capability to thrive in our community, all while working towards our mission of making Indiana a more welcoming place for ALL people.

As we approach the end of 2017, I am proud to be able to share with you a taste of what we are doing in the new building to prepare it for its future use.  Many of you have been asking for this information.  Countless others still don’t know that we have even begun this journey.  Regardless of which group you fit in, hopefully you will find this update informative.  If it also inspires you to open up your checkbook & make a financial contribution to our efforts, we would welcome that (more details below)!

Before and After October 2017

Over the past 30 days we selected (after seeking multiple bids) a local architecture firm who is completing a feasibility study of our building.  This study will establish the ‘current state’ of the building & highlight areas for improvement.  The study will also develop a preliminary site master plan on the future utilization of the entire building, based upon our communicated programming needs.    Springpoint Architects will be finished with the feasibility study in Q1 of 2018.  They are a firm experienced in historical restoration.   We received a $2,500 grant from Indiana Landmarks to assist with the cost of the feasibility study.

Phase 1, transition of existing operations, to be completed by January 31st, 2018:

  • This phase includes:
    • Relocation of Unity, our retail store & designated Safe Place ™ location
    • Relocation of our meeting space for volunteers, the board, & Iris (our youth group)
    • Establishment of Meeting Room space on the 1st floor
  • This work will include (at minimum):

Phase 1 as of 28NOV17













Phase 2, to be completed by a date yet to be determined (awaiting completion of site master plan & necessary funding):

  • This phase includes:
    • Exterior Restoration & High Priority Improvements
    • Interior High Priority Improvements
  • This work will include (at minimum):

Phase 2 as of 28NOV17






Phase 3, to be completed by a date yet to be determined (awaiting completion of site master plan & necessary funding):

  • This phase includes:
    • 2nd Floor Interior Restoration & Improvements
  • This work will include (at minimum):

Phase 3 as of 28NOV17





Additional phases will be developed upon completion of the feasibility study & site master plan

What are the factors keeping us from making our vision a reality today?  Financing.   Our volunteers have the passion, energy, & dedication.  Our organization has both the imagination & the capability.

While we are a successful not-for-profit, our goal has never been to focus on revenue – but rather – our work.  Our existing revenue streams support our current work.  In order to ensure the continued fiscal strength of our organization, therefore, we cannot rely on our present funding to transform our new community center.  Instead, we will be seeking grants, individual contributions, & organizational partners.

Can you help on this #GivingTuesday?  Every dollar brings us closer to our goals.   With your support, we will create a facility where everyone can gather, learn, shop, support, & imagine, all while helping us accomplish our mission of making Indiana a more welcoming place for all people.   Spencer Pride is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization & your donations may be tax deductible.

To make a contribution, visit www.SpencerPride.org (just click the donate button on the top of the home page) or contact Judi Epp or I.  We can provide you a private tour of the facility & show you what we can accomplish together.  We can also talk about the benefits of becoming a sponsor, if you are interested in learning more about those opportunities.

We know what needs to be done & we WILL get it accomplished.  You can help make it happen sooner rather than later.

Imagine That. 

Jonathan Signature






The view from the roof of our building overlooking downtown Spencer
The view from the roof of our building overlooking downtown Spencer

“Rocky Horror” Event a Great Success

The historic Tivoli Theater in downtown Spencer was the site of Spencer Pride’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender (LGBT) History Month event “A Night at the Tivoli.” It was admission-free thanks to generous sponsors of Spencer Pride, Inc., and held on Wednesday, October 11th, at 7:00 PM. There were more than 200 people in attendance.

Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash addresses the audience while donned in his "Rocky Horror' gender-bending attire.
Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash addresses the audience while donned in his “Rocky Horror’ gender-bending attire.

“We were very pleased with this year’s turnout”, said Spencer Pride Inc.’s, President Jonathan Balash.  “Our film choice, coupled with the recent announcement that we purchased a new building downtown helped to build a ‘buzz’ for this event.”

More than a  dozen attendees participated in the costume contest.
More than a dozen attendees participated in the costume contest.

The main attraction for the evening was the movie. This year’s film was The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  The 1975 movie has become a cult classic due to the interaction of viewers through dress, songs, and props. The showing by Spencer Pride did not disappoint. There were fabulous costumes and guests who spoke, sang, and danced to the movie. These guests also provided guidance to other guests on when to use the fun props that were available for purchase before the movie.

The evening also included a costume contest.  More than a dozen attendees participated in the contest.   It was a fabulous way for the audience to participate by judging the costumes.

There was an LGBT history month trivia game which also helped to get the audience involved with the festivities.  The trivia focused on local LGBTQ organizations.  This is also the theme for Spencer Pride’s LGBT history month educational displays, which are currently out at more than 24 local libraries, schools, and institutions.  More information about the locations of the displays can be found on the organization’s website www.SpencerPride.org.

Boston Scientific PACE presented a check to WRV PFLAG prior to the film.   The money will be used to support Spencer Pride's youth group Iris.
Boston Scientific PACE presented a check to WRV PFLAG prior to the film. The money will be used to support Spencer Pride’s youth group Iris.


Owen Valley Winery had their tasting room open to lure filmgoers into sampling their wine. The winery’s tasting room is adjacent to the Tivoli and was open until 10:00 PM.  The first 50 guests over 21 enjoyed a free glass of wine thanks to a donation by the winery in support of Spencer Pride’s event.

Spencer Pride organizers thank the many individuals and businesses who sponsored “A Night at the Tivoli,” including Greencastle Walmart and many others who have made generous donations to ensure that the event remained admission-free.

In addition to the Tivoli event, our retail space, Unity, at 46 E. Market St. on the courthouse square was open until 7:00 p.m. and reopened following the event.  Guests stopped in before and after the event and checked out the many items that are hand-made by local artists.

For more information about Spencer Pride, check out the rest of our website or visit the current commUnity center at 46 East Market Street in Spencer.

ANATT 2017 2-0100


Spencer Pride President Speaks at “Pride Talks”

Pictured here, from left to right: Sylvia Thomas, Kevin Calhoun, Michele Irimia-Bernabe, Emmanuel Temores, Jonathan Balash, & Myranda Warden.
Pictured here, from left to right: Sylvia Thomas, Kevin Calhoun, Michele Irimia-Bernabe, Emmanuel Temores, Jonathan Balash, & Myranda Warden.

On Friday, October 6, Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash spoke alongside 5 other individuals at “Pride Talks.”  The event was part of the Indy Pride Educational Series & was presented by Butler University.

“Pride Talks” took place at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis.  The event coincided with the InterPride 2017 World Conference & many attendees were participants from the conference.  The public was also welcome to attend.  The auditorium was packed!

Each speaker spoke about why they are involved in the LGBTQ+ pride movement & why they continue to be involved.  Speakers included: Sylvia Thomas, Kevin Calhoun, Michele Irimia-Bernabe, Emmanuel Temores, Jonathan Balash, & Myranda Warden.

Each individual “Pride Talk” was unique & offered a perspective unlike the others.  As a collective group, the talks were emotional & motivational.  Throughout the evening there were plenty of tears & laughs in the auditorium.

Balash spoke about his experience growing up in Hobart, Indiana, which he perceived to be a very small town at the time.  Little did he know that he’d ultimately live in a community 1/10 the size of Hobart & be a part of establishing one of the most successful rural LGBTQ+ pride organizations in the United States.    Jonathan’s presentation focused on two main topics: the importance of visibility & the recognition that we must continue to educate people on LGBTQ+ issues or they will become indoctrinated to less open-minded ideas.

Change doesn’t happen TO you, it happens BECAUSE OF you,” Balash said during his presentation to the audience.

“Remember that what you are doing is IMPORTANT.  The simple things are IMPORTANT.  Being there, being visible is REALLY IMPORTANT.”

Additional photos & a small video clip of the presentation by Balash is available on the Spencer Pride Facebook page.

"Pride Talks" took place at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis on October 6, 2017.
“Pride Talks” took place at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis on October 6, 2017.

LGBTQ History Displays Available Throughout South Central Indiana

2017 Library Display - Monroe CountyThroughout the month of October, which is LGBTQ History Month, area public libraries, schools, & other institutions are featuring educational displays made by Spencer Pride.  Spencer Pride has created these displays for many years.  This year’s theme is Hoosier Heroines/Heroes.  It focuses on local LGBTQ+ organizations’ leaders.

The boards were assembled by volunteers from Spencer Pride & Iris, our youth group.  Spencer Pride volunteers also distributed the displays throughout the region.

Organizations featured include:  Spencer Pride, Iris Youth Group, Prism Youth Community, White River Valley PFLAG, Putnam Pride Initiative, Mooresville Gay-Straight Alliance, Bloomington PRIDE, & more!

This year’s displays are featured in 24 locations! This includes 10 schools, 12 public libraries, & 2 other institutions in 10 counties.  These displays have been very popular over the years.  Many of the organizations which display the materials request to keep them so that they can be utilized throughout the year in different capacities.  It is, of course, our pleasure to comply with these requests.  We see these displays as an excellent opportunity to expose the broader population to LGBTQ+ history, people, & issues.

The educational displays are available at the following locations:

  • Bedford Public Library (Bedford, Lawrence County)
  • Bloomfield Eastern Greene County Public Library (Bloomfield, Greene County)
  • Bloomington North High School (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Bloomington South High School (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Brazil Public Library (Brazil, Clay County)
  • Brown County Public Library (Nashville, Brown County)
  • DePauw University, Roy O. West Library (Greencastle, Putnam County)
  • Edgewood High School (Ellettsville, Monroe County)
  • Franklin College  (Franklin, Johnson County)
  • Indiana University Herman B. Wells Library (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Indiana University School of Public Health (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Knox County Public Library (Vincennes, Knox County)
  • LGBTQ Cultural Center at Indiana University (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Mitchell Community Public Library (Mitchell, Lawrence County)
  • Monroe County History Center (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Monroe County Public Library (Bloomington, Monroe County)
  • Monroe County Public Library (Ellettsville, Monroe County)
  • Mooresville High School (Mooresville, Morgan County)
  • Morgan County Public Library (Martinsville, Morgan County)
  • Owen County Public Library (Spencer, Owen County)
  • Putnam County Public Library (Greencastle, Putnam County)
  • Roachdale Franklin Township Library (Roachdale, Putnam County)
  • Vincennes University Library (Vincennes, Knox County)
  • Worthington Jefferson Township (Worthington, Greene County)


2017 Library Display - Nashville

Spencer Pride Hosts Workshop at International Conference

The audience was highly engaged during Spencer Pride's presentation of "How to Have Pride & Make Change in Rural America"
The audience was highly engaged during Spencer Pride’s presentation of “How to Have Pride & Make Change in Rural America”

On Saturday, October 7, representatives from Spencer Pride presented “How to Have Pride & Make Change in Rural America” to participants of the InterPride 2017 World Conference.  InterPride is the organization of LGBTQ pride organizers.  Nearly 300 individuals attended the conference, representing all populated continents & approximately 70 pride organizations worldwide.

The workshop was delivered by Spencer Pride president Jonathan Balash, with assistance from treasurer Judi Epp & secretary Katie Zuber.  The workshop began with an overview of Spencer, Indiana, & the unique challenges of organizing a rural LGBTQ+ pride organization.  Next, attendees were introduced to the scope of Spencer Pride’s work in the community.  The remainder of the informative session was focused on Spencer Pride’s approach/strategy & how they’ve managed to be successful within their community & beyond.

“It was an honor to be selected by InterPride to present this material,” said Balash.  “There are so many rural pride organizations popping up all over the world & they need all the help they can get to establish themselves.  We want to do all that we can so that they can learn from our experiences.”

A workshop participant stays after the session to ask a question from Judi Epp, Spencer Pride's treasurer & volunteer coordinator.
A workshop participant stays after the session to ask a question from Judi Epp, Spencer Pride’s treasurer & volunteer coordinator.

The workshop focused on providing plenty of real-life examples of how Spencer Pride’s approach has worked (or not) when put into action.  It was a candid presentation meant to give rural LGBTQ+ organizers ways to start & improve their own organizations.  It was also intended to help educate non-rural LGBTQ+ organizations about how to be more supportive of their rural neighbors.

Spencer Pride volunteers have been working for weeks to prepare for the workshop.  Besides the informative presentation, each person attending the session also received a packet full of information to help further their work in support of rural LGBTQ+ pride organizations.

Participants were very engaged by the workshop & highly complimentary of what was presented.  Many of them spoke to the Spencer Pride representatives later in the conference to explain how they would take the learnings from the workshop back into their own communities.

“We were so pleased with the reception we received about what we shared,” said Judi Epp.  “It’s exciting to know that we were able to help other organizations in their journey towards LGBTQ+ equality.”

Organizations & individuals interested in receiving this training should contact Jonathan at Jonathan@SpencerPride.org.

Our New Building: How YOU Can Help Turn a Dream into Reality

Franklin Street Building and SkyWe’ve been getting a lot of questions from individuals & businesses about our plans for the historic building that we purchased on Franklin Street in Spencer.  We are grateful that so many people have taken an interest in our vision for the transformation of the building into the new Spencer Pride commUnity center.

A key element of our ability to realize our vision is financial support.  The initial building was financed through Owen County State Bank & through the assistance of an anonymous local citizen/supporter.  The total cost for the project will be much higher.  We are currently working to evaluate a local architect with whom we can begin to design the space in a thoughtful manner.

If you are interested in helping us achieve our vision, we encourage you to visit our website at www.SpencerPride.org/rainbow.  There you can find out more information about our ideas for the new center.  You’ll also be able to see the many packages available for individuals & businesses that are interested in sponsoring our project.  We can also customize benefits packages if the current options do not address your needs.

Our funds for the building transformation, which is part of our Rainbow Capital Campaign, are being managed by the Owen County Community Foundation.  Checks can be made out to Owen County Community Foundation with “Spencer Pride Building Fund” or “Spencer Pride Rainbow Capital Campaign” written on the notes line.  Checks can also be made out to Spencer Pride, Inc., with the same notations made.

Judi Epp, Spencer Pride’s treasurer, would love to speak with you about how you can help us make our dream for the space become a reality.  You can reach Judi at 317-345-4729 or via e-mail at Judi@SpencerPride.org.

Spencer Pride Purchases Historic Building to Expand Services

As the Spencer Pride organization prepared to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its well-received LGBTQ+ center, quietly behind the scenes the Board of Directors was working on a huge next step for the organization – ownership of their own building.

The Spencer Pride commUnity center is currently housed within a beautiful old building on the south side of the Owen County Courthouse. The organization rents from local owner Mike Sudol. Although the initial plan was to eventually consume the entire 3,000 square feet of space in the Sudol building, it did not take much time for Spencer Pride volunteers to realize that they’d need much more space to17 East Franklin truly meet their planned needs & to allow for room to ‘dream’ further.

“We never imagined one year ago how much of an impact having a community center would have. We’ve quadrupled our volunteer base in the last 12 months alone,” says Judi Epp, Spencer Pride’s treasurer & volunteer coordinator. “We now have the capacity to do more than we imagined we would be able to at this point.”

When the SPCC opened last September, the organization hoped to expand its hours of operation to 5 days a week over the next 5 years. After just 11 months in operation, the SPCC was already open 4 days a week.

Additionally, because of the sizable increase in volunteers, regular meetings at the center are consuming more space than was initially expected. The original plan for a smaller, multi-use space was for a smaller organization and no longer meets the needs of the not-for-profit.

On October 2, Spencer Pride Inc., closed a deal to purchase a much larger structure on the north side of the courthouse, just east of the Spencer Coffee Shop which is currently under construction. The acquisition is the first-ever property purchase that the organization has made.

The property is located at 17 East Franklin Street. It is a two-story facility that includes more than 9,000 square feet. The property has served a variety of different businesses over the past couple of decades, including Chaps Steakhouse and the Open Door Christian Fellowship. The building was originally constructed in the late 19th century. For many years, it served as the local lodge of the Improved Order of Red Men, a fraternal organization.

Spencer Pride has big plans for the new space, but first will work with a local architecture firm to develop the design. Ultimately the new Spencer Pride commUnity center will be a fully functioning LGBTQ+ center.

Unity, Spencer Pride’s retail shop, will find a welcome home in the new space that more than doubles its current footprint. This will enable a significant expansion of its already very diverse selection of goods from local artists and craftspeople. Unity’s ever-popular selection of retail will also be given more room on the shelves.

In addition to Unity, the center will contain a large meeting room & event hall, the latter of which was originally the building’s grand ballroom. This will allow for diverse use by the community and its many organizations and businesses. Plans for the space also include offering rental units for the aging LGBTQ+ community & more.

A solar roof and other features will ensure that the newly renovated structure will have a minimal environmental impact.

“We are excited to have achieved this milestone for Spencer Pride and the entire community. We look forward to all that the new center will be able to offer the people of Owen and surrounding counties,” said Jonathan Balash, Spencer Pride’s President.

Balash explained that the timing of the transition from their current building to the new one is dependent upon many variables, including the financing of their vision for the Franklin Street property.

“Over the next few months we will be engaging with many entities in order to properly plan the space,” he said. “While we are all eager to get into the new facility, we want to do it right. This is a huge investment in our downtown.”

Balash noted that the complete development of their new center will likely take several years and would happen in several phases. As funds are identified, the speed of the building’s transformation will increase.

Cathy Wyatt, longtime volunteer and Director of Spencer Pride, is one of the members of the Rainbow Capital Campaign, the committee within Spencer Pride responsible for the identification and logistics of the property purchase. Wyatt and her husband Dan had been looking at the property for some time before bringing it to the attention of the Spencer Pride board of directors. Now, the committee is tasked with driving the development of the facility design.

“This was too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Wyatt confessed. “We are pleased that things were able to work out. The new building on Franklin Street will allow us to do what we’ve dreamed of doing for the past decade.”

Balash expressed gratitude to their current landlord, Mike Sudol, & his wife Denise.

“It was only because of their support that we had the initial opportunity to have a presence downtown on the square. We will forever be grateful for the role they played in helping us move the organization forward.”

For more information about Spencer Pride, visit www.SpencerPride.org or visit the current commUnity center at 46 East Market Street in Spencer.

Spencer Pride Volunteers to Participate in InterPride 2017 World Conference

From October 5 – 8, representatives from Spencer Pride will be participating in the InterPride 2017 World Conference, which will be held in Indianapolis thanks to host Indy Pride.

Jonathan Balash, Judi Epp, & Katie Zuber, all directors & officers of Spencer Pride, will be attending the event as well as delivering a workshop entitled “How to Have Pride & Make Change in Rural America.”  The workshop focuses on how rural areas pose unique challenges to LGBTQ+ organizations & how Spencer Pride volunteers have been able to be so successful over the past 11 years within their small community.  The session, one of many offered throughout the 4-day InterPride World Conference, looks at Spencer Pride’s approach & aims to provide attendees with information to help them establish, improve, and support their own rural LGBTQ+ pride organization.


“It’s an honor to have been among those workshops who were selected for this year’s World Conference,” says Balash. “It’s important to ensure that there is representation of rural LGBTQ+ pride organizations since so many LGBTQ+ people live in rural communities.   We are proud to be a part of this event.”

For more information about the InterPride 2017 World Conference, visit https://www.indypride.org/interpride/