Skip to content

Spencer Pride

New Leadership and Enhanced Focus on Accessibility for Spencer Pride Festival

  • by


FEBRUARY 29, 2024

It’s official!  Thanks to the approval of the Spencer Town Board on February 8, the 2024 Spencer Pride Festival will take place on Saturday, October 5.  While the rural LGBTQ+ Pride event will be celebrating its 17thyear, it continues to evolve in order to welcome a broader audience and ensure a safe, supportive, and celebratory occasion for all participants.

Kate Gehringer was recently elected as the organization’s Festival Director.  The festival is Spencer Pride’s longest running program and Gehringer becomes only the second person to have served as lead of the event.   She is excited about improvements planned for this year’s event.

“We will be expanding to include all four streets, giving attendees and vendors more room to move and explore our downtown,” said Gehringer.

Gehringer, who has served as the festival’s marketplace coordinator for the past few years, knows the value that this extra space will bring to the festival, especially as it relates to improving accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

When asked what experiences she has had that will help her to be successful in her new leadership role, Gehringer explained:

“I’ve been a waitress, a schoolteacher, a homesteader, and a competitive creative problem-solver in my time on this planet; I know how to do hard things.  Additionally, I am so fortunate to be able to collaborate with the amazingly talented Spencer Pride volunteers to meet any challenges that come our way.”

One of the challenges faced by many organizations focuses around accessibility, which has been an area Spencer Pride has invested in for the past several years.  In 2022, Spencer Pride began offering a low-sensory space and designating most downtown parking spaces specifically for individuals with disabilities.    Both of these features will see improvements this year.

After last year’s successful October festival, and upon conclusion of a benchmarking effort among LGBTQ+ Pride Festivals across the nation to identify accessibility best practices, Spencer Pride formally designated an Accessibility Coordinator to serve on the Festival Leadership Council.  The change was made to ensure that accessibility gets the focus that it deserves.

“As an organization built on the principles of equality and inclusion, Spencer Pride wants to make our festival accessible to everyone, regardless of ability,” said Elisabeth Solchik, who was chosen to serve as the event’s first Accessibility Coordinator.   Solchik also serves as the Fundraising Director on the Spencer Pride Board of Directors.

“This aligns with our broader focus on removing barriers and creating safe places for all,” she continued.

For the past several years, individuals with disabilities have been increasingly attending Spencer’s rural LGBTQ+ pride
event.  Event organizers are proud of this and hope to see growth in attendance among this too-often marginalized population.

Solchik noted some additional priorities for this year’s event, including creation of a “new sober space for those that choose to have a substance-free experience at our festival” and accessibility-related communications improvement at the event.  Gehringer added that the organization also plans to increase training for volunteers to better assist folks with non-apparent disabilities.   All of these initiatives are sure to be welcomed by festival attendees on October 5.

To learn more about accessibility plans for this year’s festival or to provide accessibility-related feedback for the event, individuals are encouraged to contact Solchik at  For other festival-related information or feedback, individuals can reach out to Gehringer at

Spencer Pride is currently seeking vendors, sponsors, and entertainers to participate in the 2024 Spencer Pride Festival.  To apply, visit