Now in its 20th year, Ventura County Pride 2019 will pay tribute to the Stonewall riots to recognize the contribution and sacrifices the LGBTQ community made 50 years ago, especially trans women and drag queens of color.

The Stonewall riots — also referred to as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion — were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid on June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City.

“This movement along with many others laid the foundation for LGBTQ liberation and activism,” said Joseph Summers of Ventura, program manager of Diversity Collective Ventura County, presenter of Ventura County Pride. “We will highlight the Stonewall riots for this reason along with our own 20 years of LGBTQ visibility and activism locally.”

Festivities kick off on Friday night, Aug. 16, with a pre-Pride party at Paddy’s Cocktail Lounge. Evening highlights include drink specials, two dance floors and a pride show presented by the Peaches and Cream Production, Almost 21.  

The Ventura County Pride Festival proper takes place on Saturday, starting at 11 a.m. at Plaza Park in Ventura. Admission is free for those 12 and under; $10 general admission, and $5 for students, military, seniors and people with disabilities. All proceeds raised will help sustain the Diversity Collective’s programs and services, including its Community Resource Center. 

Festival highlights include entertainment by Ada Vox from Season 12 of American Idol, Jason Cozmo impersonating Dolly Parton, pop duo PuffHost, and performing arts group Get Loud Movement. There will also be more than 80 vendors, food trucks, a kids’ zone and drag queen story hour, as well as a youth lemonade lounge and senior lavender lounge. Additional highlights include a VIP Pride area, sponsored by local breweries, wineries and distilleries, where guests can sample from each sponsor and taste treats from a full dessert bar. Cost for the VIP ticket is $40 per guest.

“We have over 80 vendors signed on to educate our community on local and national resources and advocate for their access,” said Summers, noting that the retail vendors will sell jewelry, clothing art and more. “We are excited about our food truck show this year — we will have Asian fusion, barbecue, grilled cheese, soft served ice cream, shaved ice, Mexican food and more.” 

The Pride after-party will take place again at Paddy’s, starting at 9 p.m.

All of this year’s Pride events, including the theme, Stand Out Stand Proud, seek to show that “we are proud of who we are and will continue to thrive as such,” Summers emphasized.

“Our mission for Pride weekend is to educate, advocate and celebrate the LGBTQ community while providing a platform for those most marginalized in our own community,” he said. “We promote diversity, education, mental and physical health to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and the Latinx population, as well as the general public.”

Last year’s festival took place at Promenade Park in Ventura, and is being moved to Plaza Park this year to accommodate the growing number of attendees.

“This has provided us with an opportunity to collaborate with local downtown businesses and many will be featured vendors,” Summers said. “We are really focusing on keeping this year’s festival in line with our roots as family-friendly and will be including a kids’ zone with a full day of crafts being offered along with drag queen story time, a parent connection hour, and just utilizing the existing playground to its fullest.”

The ultimate goal is to provide “an affirming space” to celebrate the LGBTQ community “in its every aspect and inter-sectionality,” he added. 

“We encompass all areas of the community now and include families, married couples and individuals of all ages,” Summers said. “We also want to maintain VC Pride’s and Diversity Collective’s mission to provide education and advocacy opportunities around physical and mental health. One way we will do that is by providing confidential free HIV screenings in partnership with the county through their mobile testing unit.”

Ventura County Pride 2019 takes place on Saturday, Aug. 17, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at Plaza Park, 651 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura. The pre-Pride (Aug. 16) and after (Aug. 17) parties take place at Paddy’s, 2 W. Main St., Ventura — both starting at 9 p.m. For full schedule and more information, call 805-644-5428 or visit www.diversitycollectivevc.org/pride.