History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Organizations - Activist & Political - PrideFest

Milwaukee PrideFest - 2010
- At A Glance -

June 11-13, 2010


Henry W. Maier Festival Park




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Health and Wellness Area;
Dance Stage had a huge LED screen, first of any festival in Milwaukee

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The 2010 PrideFest opened earlier than before, at 3:00pm on Friday afternoon. Friday's weather was gorgeous, with sun and comfortable temperatures. Friday's headliner entertainment was comedian Kathy Griffin. The preceeding acts ran long, and Kathy appeared about 45 minutes later than expected- long enough that the scheduled midnight closing of the grounds had to be delayed until the act was over and people could exit the park.

Saturday was cooler than expected, and suprisingly foggy most of the day- foggy enough that a separate air show scheduled by the Blue Angels over Bradford Beach area was cancelled. However the cool temperatures did not mar the day. PrideFest's Saturday was filled with educational, family, youth, and health activities. The LGBT History Project chronicled the community's heritage in an intimate tent just near the entrance of the festival. Families enjoyed magicians and animal showcases. Youth participated in fashion shows and an inter-generational dialogue. The BESTD Clinic hosted HIV testing in the Health and Wellness Area. Mayor Tom Barrett even paid a visit, applauding PrideFest for another "lovely festival."

    As the cloudy day turned into a clear night, Lena Katina's high-octave voice filled the evening air. The beautiful siren sang solo ballads as well as hits from her days as one-half of the electronica/dance music group t.A.T.u. After a colorful fireworks display, Bruce Vilanch hosted the headline show likening the festival to "a gay cruise." The show also featured Rose Jang and Charice (who won acclaim and an enthusiastic thumbs up from Oprah Winfrey and Patti LaBelle ). Lena Katina even did the can-can backstage as Jang sang, "All That Jazz."

    But the show stopper was the woman who paved the way for all of the songbirds mentioned thus far...Patti LaBelle. An illustrious career that still continues to flourish and evolve to this day, LaBelle graced the Miller Lite Main Stage with hits such as "New Attitude," "On My Own," "Lady Marmalade," "If Only You Knew," and the awesomely appropriate "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

    LaBelle's prescence on stage was both full of awe and full of humility. During "If Only You Knew" she walked up to one of the signers to learn the sign language for her lyrics. She kicked off her high-heeled shoes to replace them with flatter sandals (bejeweled of course). The singer requested air conditioning be turned on stating that "menopause is in the house." Labelle even defied security's advice and brought a disorderly patron on stage, hugging the patron and ensuring that he was escorted back to his seat.

    "We're two steps away from everything," LaBelle said. "Loneliness. Happiness. Our last paycheck. Loving our neighbor, black, white, gay, straight...stay gay! Stay the way you are!"

Sunday started out more promising that Saturday, with sun and slightly warmer temperatures. However rain moved in late evning, and by the time headlining funny woman and fashion maven Joan Rivers took the stage on Sunday night, there was a steady downpour. 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. Midway through her act, the rain tapered off and ended by about 11:15pm

    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 no one 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...."

One of the highlights of the festival this year was the Health and Wellness Area, which focused on keeping festival goers happy and healthy. Free water and apples were distribluted 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. All weekend long, the PUMP! Dance Stage featured a huge LED screen, first of any festival in Milwaukee.

PrideFest 2010 closed the weekend with a new record attendance of 30,358 people.


Statistics (Note: Attendance figure above is official total attendance; numbers below are turnstile only and do not necessarily total to official count.)

Day Turnstile Attendance High Temp Humidity Weather Conditions
Fri 6/11 9,117 72 72 Scattered clouds
Sat 6/12 11,541 63 88 Overcast
Sun 6/13 6,965 64 84 Light rain


Pride Guide

2010 Pride Guide cover
Click here to view pages from the 2010 Pride Guide

Credits: design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: June-2010.