AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta Pride’s celebrations are back next month after the pandemic canceled last year’s events. that cancellation didn’t just put an end to the festivities, it took big money away from the local economy.
Pride events benefit not only people in the LGBTQ community, but the City of Augusta as a whole. And this year, we can expect not just a weekend of events, but an entire week of an economic boost.
“They come here and stay at our hotels and shop at our stores and dine at our restaurants while they’re here visiting,” said James Mintz, President of Augusta Pride.
Last time a Pride celebration took place in Downtown Augusta was before the pandemic stopped gatherings in their tracks. And while 2020’s unexpected halt in activities canceled the excitement that usually fills Broad Street and beyond, economic benefits froze too.
Mintz said, “We wanted to make sure that the public was safe and secure.”
Augusta Pride had its 10 year anniversary bash in 2019. Destination Augusta reports the Garden City saw 14,000 people turn out for the event.
Estimated 2021 Augusta Pride Festival | Economic Impact
- Estimated Attendance: 5000
- Estimated Economic Impact: $419,632
The crowd in 2019 brought a $1.3 million economic impact. Downtown Development Authority’s Margaret Woodard said the comeback helps because the city saw a drop in one million visitors due to event cancellations.
“This event draws people from all over the United States to our city. So, not only is it great for our businesses, but they may take a look at Augusta and say hey, I want to open a business here as well,” said Margaret Woodard, Downtown Development Authority Executive Director.
Mintz said his organization began quickly planning once the city gave it the green light and vaccines looked promising. New this time, a Sunday kick off at a local church and Pride Night Out, supporting Savannah River Brewing Company. To play it safe, the organization will not offer its usual parade down Broad Street and there will be fewer vendors. Mintz said Beats on Broad and the Saturday Festival in the entertainment district will not disappoint.
“Ada Vox, who is a former American Idol contestant, and the musical duo OneUp, who competed on The Voice. And we have Qween Farrazz, who has performed at our festival previously,” he said.
Mintz said you can expect social distancing and even vaccinations during Pride week. But along with the fun and return of the economic boom, he’s hoping to bring change.
“That’s why the Civil Rights ordinance that’s being proposed by the Augusta Commission is very important. There’s still many people that are not protected from discrimination in Augusta,” said Mintz.
Pride events start the week of June 20. Mintz said there is a goal to get people excited about coming downtown again.