Pride Month in NC: Here are 9 celebrations in North Carolina’s small towns

Pride Month in NC

Everyone should have a chance to show their LGBTQ+ pride. Here are nine small-town Pride events across the state. (Photo via Wilson Pride)

By Ryan Pitkin

May 31, 2024

Everyone should have a chance to celebrate Pride Month in NC, regardless of whether they live in a big city or not. Here’s a guide to celebrating in NC’s small towns.

We are entering Pride Month in NC, the nationwide observance first launched following the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Today, we live in a world where, while LGBTQ+ people may enjoy more rights than the generations that came before them and see more acceptance in certain areas, they still find those rights under attack across the country.

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That’s why Pride Month in NC is as important as ever, offering the community a multitude of ways to come together and celebrate one another in a safe environment — all the more so in smaller towns where that community might not be as large. The organizations that host these events could always use your support, as One Community of the Carolinas in Jacksonville announced in March it would close its physical office and hasn’t mentioned any plans to host its annual festival in June.

That said, Pride celebrations can be hard to keep track of in North Carolina. The largest celebration in the state, Charlotte Pride, doesn’t even take place in June, it’s held each year in August instead. Meanwhile, a number of other cities and towns across the state host their annual Pride events in the fall — mostly for weather-related reasons.

Don’t worry; we’re here to help with a list of small-town celebrations spread across North Carolina that actually take place during Pride Month.

Wilson Pride, Wilson

May 31-June 2

With thousands expected to attend, Wilson Pride is always a spectacle to behold. This year’s event in Historic Downtown Wilson kicks off with trivia, a lip-sync battle and Bad Romance: A Tribute to Lady Gaga, all at Casita Brewing Co. Saturday is full of activations, from vendors to panel discussions to art installations to drag shows — all wrapped up with an after party.

Atone for your sins on Sunday with a faith gathering at Casita Brewing and Pride Run Club hitting a route following that.

Pride Film Fest, Sylva

Thursdays in June

Pride Month in NC: Here are 9 celebrations in North Carolina’s small towns

(Photo via Sylva Pride)

Sylva Pride recognized Pride Month and celebrates the HERstory of the drag community with four great films, beginning with documentaries Paris Is Burning (1990) and The Queen (1968) and wrapping up the month with two comedies: Victor/Victoria (1982) and Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994).

Sylva Pride will also be connecting folks with drag resources and cultivating community in general at each of these free screenings at Cornbread & Roses.

Apex Pride Festival, Apex

Saturday, June 8

While Apex Pride does hold an annual Pride Fall Picnic in October, the real party happens in June. Head to Hunter Street where you’ll find around 100 vendors including arts, businesses, nonprofits and other community resources, plus an inclusive variety of international food and beverage vendors.

Live entertainment will be rotating on and off the main stage all day, including the beloved Drag Extravaganza. The Kid Zone will include games, inflatables, drag story hour, art and an interactive drum circle, and there’s a Teen HangOut for those in the middle.

Picnic for Pride, Hendersonville

Saturday, June 8

Hosted by Hendersonville Pride and attended by more than 500 people annually, this family-friendly potluck-style picnic features local exhibitors, music, thoughtful speeches, food trucks, and an assortment of activities like face painting, improv, a drum circle, a family zone, youth art gallery, bounce houses, and more in the beautiful Jackson Park.

Follow Hendersonville Pride’s Instagram page to find other events like the Out & Proud Pride Kickoff Party on June 7 or the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus performance on June 15.

Pride in the Pines, Southern Pines

June 8

Hosted by Sandhills PRIDE, an organization for LGBTQ+ folks in Southern Pines and Pinehurst (hence the name), this grassroots festival is celebrating its second annual iteration on the lawn of the Weymouth Center with live music, food trucks, health and wellness information, and art activities for all ages.

Pride Interfaith Service, North Wilkesboro

June 9 & June 23

Wilkes True Colors presents two interfaith services during Pride Month to unite the community with individuals of all backgrounds and traditions. The services will take place at Stardust Cellars, an inclusive winery, wildcraft meadery, biodynamic vineyard, event venue , and tasting room in Wilkes.

If church service isn’t what you’re looking for, head over to Stardust on June 29 instead for a fabulous celebration of love, inclusivity, and fierce performances at Pride Drag Brunch.

MY Pride Fest, Burnsville

June 14-15

Pride Month in NC: Here are 9 celebrations in North Carolina’s small towns

(Photo via My Pride NC)

MY Pride NC is an LGBTQ+ non-profit organization based in the western NC counties of Mitchell and Yancey, where June makes for fine festival weather. Kick things off at MY Pride Fest Eve at The Dispensary & Upper Club in Spruce Pine with music, dancing, raffle, and drag.

The main event takes place at the Celo Community Center in Burnsville on Saturday, a family-friendly fest with music, dancing, raffle, art, and community building. Bring your lawn chair and appetite for Venezuelan eats from Delish Food Truck.

Pride Drag Brunch, Newton

Sunday, June 15

Head to Catawba Farms in Newton for a 10:30 a.m. seating and 11:30 a.m. show featuring performers like Saniya Chanel Iman, Devida, K2 Russo, and Luscious. Just remember: drag queens are like Tinkerbell, they need your applause — but tips are even more appreciated.

This event will be hosted by The Cardboard Castle, a North Carolina drag entertainment production company that was named as an homage to the cardboard castles and pillow forts we built as children. “Our first wigs were towels and mop heads and our first costumes were elaborately draped blankets,” reads the organization’s website. “As adults we use the same magic of dress up to destigmatize drag artistry while elevating and giving back to local nonprofits that support the LGBTQIA community.”

It’s the PRIDE for Me, Hickory

June 22

Cavendish Brewing Company could be considered the epicenter of Pride celebrations in Hickory, with events planned throughout the month. It kicks off with Drag Pride Brunch on Sunday, June 2, and only gets more interesting from there. On June 7, Cavendish hosts Pride Was a PROTEST, a themed trivia night honoring the protest that became Pride, followed by the Love Out Loud edition of karaoke on the very next night.

The main event takes place on June 22, with the doors opening at 11 a.m. for an all-day extravaganza that will include drag bingo, drinking games and DJ Magick Mike making sure the dance floor stays full all night.

Author

  • Ryan Pitkin

    Ryan Pitkin is a writer and editor based in Charlotte, where he runs an alternative weekly newspaper called Queen City Nerve. He is also editor of NoDa News, a community newsletter in the neighborhood where he has lived for 15 years.

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