Milwaukee PrideFest opens with laughter and high numbers

Sat. June 12, 2010 12:00 AM

kathy griffin at milwaukee pridefest

photo credit // anthony meade

Kathy Griffin and hundreds more acts open the festival in Milwaukee

Milwaukee, WI - Amid the sounds of fighter jets from a local air show and the threatening storm clouds looming above, PrideFest still managed to rock out and shine on during it's opening day. The festival, taking place this year from June 11th through June 13th, celebrates Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) heritage and community.

Within an few hours of PrideFest opening its gates, the festival already started shattering attendance records, reaching one third of its 2009 opening day attendance before 6:30 p.m.

"We had a strong showing early, and significant increase later" said PrideFest Producer Pete Minns, about opening attendance records. "We ended up breaking last years record by nearly ten percent." Initial numbers put opening day attendees at 9117.

PrideFest President Scott Gunkel shared his appreciation during the opening ceremonies.

"Looking out at the crowd during the opening ceremonies made me, well, truly proud," Gunkel said. "Through the support and dedication of our volunteers and our community, we are able to host this wonderful event year after year."

During the opening ceremonies, PrideFest took time to acknowledge the achievements and dedicated efforts of LGBT community organizations such as WISCRAD, Diverse and Resilient, the AIDS Resources Center of Wisconsin, and Best D Clinic, as well as Mark Mariucci, editor and publisher of Wisconsin's longest running LGBT publication, Quest.

In addition to the honors, PrideFest unveiled the PrideFest postal cancellation and postage stamp created by the U.S. Post Office in collaboration with the LGBT Community Center. Patrons could also send greetings on four specially-made postcards at the first ever Pride Post station.

After declaring PrideFest officially open, the party continued with DJ showcases at the Dance Pavilion, an Amy Winehouse tribute band on the Miller Lite Main Stage, and hundreds of other musical and comedy acts throughout the festival grounds.

But the coup de gras was the return performance of comedienne Kathy Griffin, who chose performing at PrideFest Milwaukee over other both Boston and LA Prides. She closed out the festival over 20 minutes late saying "You are all fantastic, I love you, be proud."

The festival continues Saturday with performances by Patti LaBelle, Charice, and Lena Katina of T.aT.u. Closing the festival Sunday will be Joan Rivers.

For more festival information, please visit

View thousands of photos from Milwaukee PrideFest 2010 by photographer Anthony Meade

Milwaukee PrideFest 2010 coverage updating regularly all weekend only on