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Douglas County PrideFest deals with opposition

Douglas County PrideFest set for Aug. 26 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds
Douglas County PrideFest set for Aug. 26 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds 02:48

Douglas County PrideFest is less than two weeks away. The event is earning a mixed reception among locals after a wardrobe malfunction last year. 

At last year's PrideFest, a drag performer's breastplate and fake nipple were temporarily exposed during the show. Since then, some community members have called for this year's festival to be adult-only, or canceled altogether. 


"We've had people protest our liquor license, we've had people try to get us kicked out of the fairgrounds," said PrideFest Co-Chair Art Kerkezian. 

For the past year, Douglas County PrideFest has faced opposition. 

"A lot of us are concerned about sexual activities in front of children," one community member said during Tuesday's Town Council meeting in Castel Rock. 

"There's gonna be thousands of people there and there's no way that everything can be controlled all the time, right? So the best way to stop that from happening is to just not have kids there in the first place. I think it's pretty easy," another said in the meeting. 

Some of those concerns have turned into homophobic attacks. 

"It seems to be purposeful to go after the children. I see news posts and pride groups chanting 'We're coming for your children.' They chant that," said councilmember Tim Dietz. 


"We've been called pedophiles and groomers," Kerkezian said, "It makes me sad. I've lived in Douglas County for 30 years. We've always been a conservative community, but I've never experienced it being a hateful community." 

They say the event is appropriate for all ages. 

"The message that pride should be adult only is incredibly dangerous because there are queer kids out there who feel alone or don't feel loved and don't have support," said PrideFest secretary Meghan Zavadil. 

Kerkezian says last year's wardrobe malfunction was a mistake, which won't happen again. 

"It was an accident and we think that it happened because of a lack of oversight and we've immediately put some changes into practice," Kerkezian said. 

This year, organizers are double-checking all performances, song lyrics, and costumes. Neither indecent exposure nor threatening protests will be tolerated. 

"Our goal is a peaceful happy and fun event for anyone," said Michael Clarkson, Chief of Security for PrideFest. 

Organizers expect protestors and say there will be a designated area outside the festival for people to demonstrate peacefully. 

Douglas County recently updated fairground policy mandating that all events must be "family-friendly", and no "sexual businesses" may operate there. 


At last night's meeting, the Castle Rock Town Council unanimously voted to discuss laws surrounding public nudity and indecency during their Sept. 19 meeting. 

Douglas County PrideFest will take place on Saturday, Aug. 26 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. 

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