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Tampa Bay and Orlando have thriving Pride events, and many people in Polk County (located smack between the two metro areas on Interstate 4) have been to those celebrations before. But what you may not know about this area is that it’s out and proud too, and their celebrations are coming up very soon! Lakeland Pridefest returns for a fourth year, with events starting Saturday, June 14. There will be lots of fun events throughout the city over the span of eight days, until the big finale comes Sunday, June 22. Like in past years, the events have been organized by Just Fierce Productions.

Here’s a rundown of the calendar of events for Lakeland Pridefest. Many of these events utilize the city’s two gay bars, Pulse Lakeland (1030 E. Main St.) and Club Main Street (1295 E. Main St.), and various other gay-friendly businesses in the area.

Saturday, June 14: “Pride in the Land of Oz,” a one-time club event organized by Just Fierce Productions and hosted by Kathryn Nevets. This party will be held at Club Main Street and there is no cover charge.
Wednesday, June 18: The Lakeland Youth Alliance is throwing a party for LGBT and allied youth at its regular meeting place, at the Mosswood Center behind Westminster Presbyterian Church (730 S. Florida Ave.). If you have any questions, e-mail info@lakelandyouthalliance.org. For adults, there is an event at Pulse Lakeland called “Girls Night Out,” hosted by Chippendales. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. To order tickets, call (863) 667-6054.
Thursday, June 19: “Tens Across the Board: Xtravaganza Kiki,” a theme event hosted by Fredi Xtravaganza and organized by Just Fierce Productions. Doors at Pulse Lakeland open at 9 p.m. $5 cover.
Saturday, June 21: “Rainbow Talks,” hosted by the Rainbow Ridge Democratic Caucus of Polk County. Featured speakers include Gina Duncan, motivational speaker skilled in transgender dynamics in the workplace; Aaron Darr, young political strategist; and Sally Phillips, president of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Paint Along Studios (123 S. Kentucky Ave.). “Journey Through the Land of Oz,” an evening of entertainment with Danika Panic, Fredi Xtravaganza and Ashley Khole Panic. Midnight show at Pulse Lakeland; $5 cover.
Sunday, June 22: “Miss Gay Polk Pride Pageant,” at the historic Polk Theatre (121 S. Florida Ave.). The winner receives $1200 in cash and prizes. $15 ticket price includes one drink. The pageant starts at 9 p.m.; any questions may be directed to polkpridepageant@gmail.com.

For more information about Lakeland Pridefest, visit their page on facebook at facebook.com/groups/polkcountygaypride.