For many people on the Harbor, the first official weekend of the fall season felt anything but that. With weekend temps reaching in the low 80s, people were encouraged to get out and enjoy the weather while it lasted. For one organization, the good weather helped bring visitors to a returning festival held in the inner Harbor.
The 2022 Grays Harbor Pride Festival was held on Saturday at the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport in Aberdeen. The event, which was hosted by the Out & Proud Grays Harbor Coalition, saw hundreds of people attend after returning to an in-person format for the first time since 2019.
“We’ve been working really hard to make this one of the biggest ones we’ve ever had. In all the nine years, I think it’s superseding any other time. All the other years were good but with this one, I feel like we found the place that we can have it here every year,” said Ceasar Hart, an organizer of the festival.
Hart, who also serves as Seattle’s Premier Drag King, said he was excited to see the turnout as high as it was given the warm sunny weather and other events occurring throughout Grays Harbor County.
From dozens of craft vendors to multiple food trucks, visitors of the pride festival had a plethora of options to hang out with other members of the community and see cultural aspects that aren’t as prevalent in the Harbor community such as drag queen story time and performances from the Jeweled Scarab Dancing Company, a dance troupe that specializes in Middle Eastern-style belly dancing.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated parts of the festival was the Lady Washington ship tours and rides. The crew of the Lady Washington, which serves as the official state ship of Washington and has a history dating back to the 1700s, offered guests a chance to see the rebuilt replica up close as well as go on short excursions in the harbor up to the mouth of the Chehalis River.
Another popular attraction occurred later in the evening with the drag show. Guests got a chance to watch professional drag queens perform on a stage to loud music and the applause of the audience watching.
“It’s just a nice opportunity to be able to come back out and see things that this community enjoys. Given that we haven’t had a pride event since before COVID, it’s good to see people support this in a time when it’s really needed,” said Sophie Miles, a Hoquiam resident visiting the pride festival.
LGBTQ issues have been a major talking point in America for much of the 21st Century, and while same-sex marriage has been legalized nationwide since 2015, Hart said events like the 2022 Grays Harbor Pride Festival are still extremely important.
“We need to make sure everybody in the community knows that there is an LGBTQ community throughout the Harbor, and we need to support them and make sure that they feel welcomed and safe where they live,” Hart said. “Hopefully one day we don’t have to pride anymore. That’s ultimately our goal but we have to do this stuff because that’s how people in our community feel safe and validated without judgment.”