Pride St. Charles was formed by a mother's concern for her son’s safety and emotional well-being after he came out at the age of 14. During their involvement with St. Charles PFLAG, the family realized the St. Charles County area needed more LGBTQIA+ acceptance. They wanted their son to live in a community where he doesn’t have to fear being himself. It was clear that someone needed to do something.
While tabling at Pride St. Louis in 2014 with St. Charles PFLAG, VP of St. Charles PFLAG Beth Finder was told that there were not currently any Pride celebrations in the St. Charles County area. Upon this realization, Beth realized that this was the perfect opportunity to create something wonderful.
With the help of PFLAG President Jill Aul began the task of getting community members to help with their initial idea, a Pride picnic for the community. After several public meetings with enthusiastic community support, their efforts were the grassroots of what is now the Pride St. Charles festival. They began to see their vision come to life in a way that neither of them thought possible.
In 2015, St. Charles PFLAG hosted the inaugural Pride St. Charles festival as their chapter project. A small group of passionate volunteers planned a day full of entertainment, vendors, LGBT history, food trucks, fun, and education. The festival was host to over 100 vendors and was visited by 3,500 attendees. As it turned out, May 30, 2015, was a very rainy day. That did not stop the Pride team, vendors or entertainers! The community and volunteers muscled through the weather and stayed all day, working in the rain and spreading cheer. After all of their hard work, the rain stopped, the clouds broke, and everyone was gifted with an unexpected and rare double rainbow. It was a sign that Pride St. Charles was meant to be.
With year one under their belt, the Pride St. Charles Committee began planning immediately for the next festival. That festival was held at 370 Lakeside Park in St. Peters, on Saturday, June 18, 2016. The festival went on despite being scheduled one week to the day following the Pulse Nightclub Orlando, FL shootings. There was a need for the LGBTQIA+ community to come together and be with family during that time. Again, the Pride St. Charles festival was host to over 100 vendors with over 7,000 people in attendance in their second year.
In August, 2016, Pride St. Charles became its own non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization with the goal of expanding their work in the community beyond the festival. From there, they reached out to the community and asked for Advisory Board members to assist in continuing the work of Pride St. Charles. The Pride team quickly grew from a nine member board to over 30 volunteers joining them on the Advisory Board.
The third Pride St. Charles festival, on Saturday, June 17, 2017, was moved to Frontier Park, which is nestled alongside the Missouri riverfront in St. Charles. President, Beth Finder & the Pride St. Charles team, once again planned the festival for the community. There were some additions to the festival that year such as a Youth Village, tie-dying station and a VIP area for 100 adults 21+ to enjoy a few drinks, close stage seating, as well as lunch and dinner. The 2017 festival once again was host to over 100 vendors and drew over 11,000 attendees.
Through the generosity of their many supporters, the Pride Team has created other programs. A "Proud Partners" program of open and affirming businesses, an "Espresso Yourself" monthly outing, and monthly "Pride Hikes." We hope that you will support our vision to grow our support network for the LGBTQIA+ citizens in our community.