Dallas Pride committee announces plan to expand celebration to two days, with the Festival in the Park on Saturday, and the Pride parade on Sunday
The 2017 Dallas Pride festivities are expanding in 2017, with the Festival in the Park moving to Saturday while the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade stays at its traditional 2 p.m. time slot on the third Sunday in September.
Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, the organization that produces Dallas Pride, said there will be “a lot of new changes and additions to make the festival more inclusive and entertaining.” He added that holding the festival and the parade on different days gives more people the chance to attend both events.
“We feel these changes … will enhance both experiences for our community and out-of-town guests,” Doughman said. He noted that more new features are in the planning stages, and that the Pride committee will be announcing those new additions to Pride weekend in the months to come.
Doughman said that Tavern Guild and Pride Committee members have been made the decision to expand after examining other Pride events and talking with organizers of those events.
“The general consensus is that a two-day event is much more successful,” he said. “That way people don’t have to decide between going to the parade, or going to the festival.”
Doughman said Tavern Guild and Pride committee members had hoped to make the change to two days of Pride this year. But the events of the year forced them to delay.
“We’ve been talking about it since we moved from Lee Park to Reverchon Park. We have the space now to really expand and improve the festival,” he said. “We had wanted to do it this year. But then Orlando happened, and that kind of took over everything. All our attention this year had to be on safety and security.”
Doughman said part of the plans to expand and improve the festival include incorporating the annual Teen Pride events as part of the Dallas Pride line-up, rather than it being something separate.
“It looked and felt like the teens were having to have their own thing because they weren’t allowed to be part of [Dallas Pride]. We want everyone to be included,” he explained. “We already have a safe space set aside for the Family Pride Zone for the little ones and families. Why don’t we include Teen Pride the same way?
“So we are going to create a safe space within the festival, a space away from alcohol and things like that, for Teen Pride to be there and be part of the festival.”
Doughman also said that organizers will be focusing on turning the festival into “mainly a music festival. We’ll be adding a second stage — there’s more information on that to come — and we’ll be adding more music, more entertainment throughout the festival grounds all day long. We will start lining up entertainment soon, and we’ll be releasing all the details as they become available. People are going to be very excited when they start seeing all we have planned.”
Doughman said the new two-day Pride schedule will help alleviate the age-old problem of traffic congestion, too. “That’s always been a bone of contention with residents who live along the parade route,” he said. “But now, with the length of the parade and where it will end, that won’t be such an issue. There won’t be any reason for people to file out into the streets and follow the parade to the park. They can stay on the Cedar Springs Strip and there in the neighborhood.”
The parade, which had been turning down Cedar Springs and ending at Reverchon Park (and before that, Lee Park), will now end at the intersection of Cedar Springs Road and Turtle Creek Boulevard. Organizers will coordinate with the Lee Park and Arlington Hall Conservancy to allow parade floats to unload at that park, giving participants an easy walk back to the main drag to continue their celebration.
Doughman said the changes are also intended to help offset the rising costs of producing Dallas Pride each year.
“Costs have escalated just so ridiculously in the last couple of years. We had to do something trim those costs, and we weren’t going to be getting any leeway from the city” in terms of what permits were necessary to stage the events, and how much those permits cost, he said. “We had to find a way to make it all affordable, for us and for the people who attend, without damaging or negatively affecting the parade or the festival.”
Doughman continued, “I know there are a lot of people out there who think we’re getting rich off of Pride. But that’s a huge misconception. It couldn’t be further from the truth. And there are some who criticize us for taking corporate sponsorships and donations. But it costs a lot of money to put these events on.
“There are so many costs people don’t ever think of. There’s the cost of the trash containers along the parade route and in the park, and the liners to go in those containers,” he said. “And then there’s the cost of cleaning up that amount of trash. And the cost of police security the city and Homeland Security require that we have. The average person has really no clue how much it all costs.
“Ours is one of the few Pride celebrations that has a beneficiary element. Most are able to generate just enough seed money to start working on the next event,” Doughman said. “To be able to produce this event for the community, to pay our bills and still have money to give to our charities, we have to generate a lot of money for that. And there are things we want to do that we just think are the right things, socially, to do. Those things come with a price tag.”
Doughman acknowledged that there will likely be some disadvantages. But, he said, “the losses are minor compared to the wins. There’s nothing self-serving about the decisions we are making. We all work 10 months a year, and I am the only salaried employee. I’m not saying we aren’t trying to raise more money. I just don’t want people to misunderstand why we want to raise more money. Our books are open to anyone who wants to see them.”
Doughman also acknowledged that recent the recent discovery that former assistant director David Berryman had misappropriated funds could cause some to question their support for the Dallas Pride committee. But he said the problems that had allowed the misappropriation to happen have been addressed, and Berryman has repaid all the money he took.
“David has been removed and has no access to anything to do with Pride any more,” he said of Berryman. “We have a brand new CPA in charge of oversight on all the books and finances, and the committee membership will get a full budget report each month. And we’ve gone to a three part process for all purchases now.”
He noted that Pride financial transactions are no longer handled through PayPal, “because we found out that was the portal through which the funds were shunted away. … We’ve removed any opportunities for that kind of thing to happen again.” •
For details and to keep abreast of new information about Dallas Pride 2017, visit DallasPride.org, check the Dallas Pride Facebook page or follow Dallas Pride on Twitter.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2016.