Milwaukee PrideFest ends on record-setting high note

Mon. June 14, 2010 6:30 AM by News Staff

milwaukee pridefest

photo credit // anthony meade

Joan Rivers closes Milwaukee PrideFest 2010

Milwaukee, WI - PrideFest went straight for the funny bone Sunday night, ending the festival on a high note with funny woman and fashion maven Joan Rivers. Festival patrons chanted "we want Joan now" as a stready but light downpour preceded her arrival. Upon her entrance, the chant transformed into a loud roar of laughter, and didn't let up until the rain had cleared and Rivers waved goodnight, saying goodbye to a record weekend crowd of 30,358.

"We were up almost 300 patrons from our 2009 attendance" said PrideFest Producer Pete Minns. "It's amazing when I consider what we do, with what we have. We manage to put on this incredible festival with a lot of hard work and dedication."

One of the highlights of the festival this year was the Health and Wellness Area, which focuses on keeping festival goers happy and healthy. Free water and apples were distributed to attendees as they roamed the area gathering information and participating in activities. "People are so excited and fully engaged in learning about and improving their health," said Julie Bock, Director of Programs at the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center.

The area also had special significance due to the startling statistics regarding the rise of HIV cases. "We are acutely aware of the increase in HIV among young gay and bisexual men," said Brenda Coley, Director of Adult Services for Milwaukee's Diverse and Resilient. "This is a concerted effort here to get the word out about this increase, to find out what the community feels about it, and to identify ways that they can lend a hand to help turn this around." The testing tent on the grounds run by BestD Clinic tested nearly 700 individuals by early Sunday afternoon.

PrideFest music was of course shining brightly with major acts in both the Dance Pavilion and Miller Lite Oasis. The PUMP! DJ Showcase featured dance performer Cyon Flare, electro-pop personality Amanda Lepore, and dance pop phenomenon Kaci Battaglia.

The highlight of the evening was the stand-up routine of legendary comedienne Joan Rivers, who took the stage hosted by New York personality Robert Verdi and featured fun acts The Glamazons and the Joans. "I don't think the laughter stopped once," said PrideFest Communications Director Kate Sherry. "Joan came out to a loud cheer, and had the crowd in stitches for the entire show." Almost noone was safe, as Rivers went after celebrities, PETA, lesbians with no sense of humor, and her close friends Cher and Rosie O'Donnell. Social media tool Twitter was also a favorite of Rivers, as she joked about her love of texting and what it would have been like years ago if Twitter exsisted. "Can you imagine if it exsisted 60, or 70 years ago," asked Joan. "It's Amelia Erhart, twitter twitter, where the ---- am I?, or It's Rosa Parks, twitter twitter, I'm sitting in the front of the bus, uh oh...."

Soon the rain stopped, the laughs continued, and a perfect weekend came to a close.

PrideFest Milwaukee 2010 may be over, but PrideFest, Inc., is still up and running all year long. Festival planning for 2011 will start soon, and the entire volunteer board and team will be hard at work organizing another jam-packed festival weekend. Check in at for updates and information.

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

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