‘It’s OK to be you’: Yampa Valley Pride event this weekend aims to build community, show support

June is Pride Month, and this year, the first-ever, large-scale, public Yampa Valley Pride event will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday on the lawn of the Routt County Historic Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Local nonprofits that provide services for the LGBTQ community, student organizations and health care providers will set up tables across the lawn. Visitors are invited to stop by, gather information, show support and have a good time. Picnic blankets will be set up on the lawn with a photo booth, music and piñata to provide entertainment.

Over a dozen tables from organizations like Integrated Community, BookTrails, Routt County United Way, Latinx Alliance and Young Bloods Collective will provide information on how to support the LGBTQ community. The best decorated table will win a $500 prize.

Renzo Walton, who works at Integrated Community, will be managing several tables. The main goal, he said, is for each organization to communicate their diversity, equity and inclusion statement.

What: Yampa Valley Pride

When: Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 25

Where: Routt County Historic Courthouse lawn, 522 Lincoln Ave. in Steamboat Springs

How much: Free

“We want the community to know that we are supporting diversity,” Walton said. “We are trying to create the exposure and awareness that there is a large LGBTQIA+ community here, and we want them to know that they’re like everybody else and are members of this community as well.”

Various games like frisbee and cornhole will be set up on the lawn, and tables will hand out items such as sunscreen samples, stickers, flags and temporary tattoos.

Young Bloods Collective’s table will feature grab-and-go craft kits inspired by the 1990s, complete with body glitter, slap bracelets, fanny packs and pony beads. There will also be information about the organization’s membership benefits, upcoming events and ways to get involved.

Sarah Valentino, president of Young Bloods Collective, said the organization decided to have a table at the event because of its vision of an evolving creative community, one that actively redefines local culture.

“Diversity is at the heart of what we do,” Valentino said. “Embracing the different, inspiring exploration, championing creativity and being authentic are our core values. This event is a unique expression of creativity, and we love to support spaces that are inclusive, playful and expressive.”

Event organizer Chelsie Holmes, who works for Advocates of Routt County, said there are multiple goals to the first-ever event.

“One is to get together a core group of organizers to try to make this an annual event and to build some community,” Holmes said. “Our hope is that allies and really everybody will come out and walk around town with stickers and show support so that people who are in the LGBTQIA+ community will feel support — especially youth.”

The event is timed with the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market, on Yampa Street, so people can grab food from the market and then eat on the courthouse lawn. Several local businesses also will be offering deals and discounts throughout the day, including Steamboat Whiskey Co., mixing up a specialty pride cocktail, and The Barley Tap and Tavern, which is offering 30% off the total bill for those who come in wearing a pride sticker.

For event organizer Cameron Felton, it’s important to shed light on the fact that there are different people all around us.

“People hide and are tentative to come out,” Felton said. “There are not a lot of people to connect with, so bringing that community together to show that we’re a part of the larger community is important. We especially want to show our youth that it’s OK to be you.”

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