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press release | PrideFest

Milwaukee Pride donates over $23,000 to mission-critical causes

pridefest_milwaukee_pride_givesbackPride Gives Back Night honors LGBTQ community cornerstones

In honor of PrideFest 2018, the largest LGBTQ event in Wisconsin history, the Milwaukee Pride Board of Directors has disbursed over $23,000 in financial donations, scholarships and gifts to local causes, including:

All beneficiaries, as well as the general public, are invited to Pride Gives Back Nighton Wednesday, August 22 at Rock Bottom Brewery (740 N. Plankinton Ave.) This special tapping event offers a cash bar and snacks, with a portion of all proceeds benefiting PrideFest 2019.  The event is free and open to the public.  All are welcome.

“While PrideFest may be our marquee event, the ability to generate financial support for other LGBTQ community organizations and programs is how we continue to bring people and efforts together all year long,” said Wes Shaver, president of Milwaukee Pride, Inc.  “We touched 45,000 lives at PrideFest 2018.  We hope that, by giving back to these critical local programs, we can touch 45,000 more before PrideFest 2019.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased to see so many deserving groups be awarded!”

Milwaukee Pride’s mission statement makes firm commitments to the LGBTQ community: to developing future leaders, to improving access to services, to celebrating our history and heritage, to creating learning, networking and activation opportunities. In fall 2018, Milwaukee Pride will assume custodial stewardship of the Wisconsin LGBT History Project as an outreach program of the organization.

This year’s community donations of $23,655 reflect a 48% increase over last year’s reinvestment of $16,000.  This is the largest single sum ever donated by Milwaukee Pride, Inc. / PrideFest Milwaukee.

Diverse & Resilient: local champion of community health

This year’s PrideFest Plus One campaign raised a record-breaking $6,100 in community donations, which were matched by the Milwaukee Pride Board of Directors for a grand total donation of $12,200.

“Diverse and Resilient is thrilled to not only be the recipient of the Plus One donations, but to have Milwaukee Pride match all of the donations from the community,” said Gerry Coon, executive director of Diverse & Resilient.

“This is fantastic,” said Kathy Flores, D&R’s LGBTQ Anti-Violence program manager.  “This means that we can expand our LGBTQ youth campaign that reminds them that they are beautiful, loved and worthy just as they are.  It is so important that LGBTQ young people know this during these difficult times.”

Coon added “Milwaukee Pride and PrideFest are treasures in the Milwaukee and larger LGBTQ community.  We always know that no matter what is going on in the world, Milwaukee Pride and PrideFest will give us a reason and place to celebrate the beautiful and loving community we are.”

PrideFest Plus One nominations are currently being accepted for the 2019 festival season. The 2019 PrideFest Plus One honoree will be announced in January.

PrideFest Milwaukee 2019 dates will be announced in August.

Sponsors:  email us to schedule a meeting!

Volunteerssign up today to get involved!

Community Organizers, Entertainers, Marketplace merchants, Food & Beverage vendorsemail us and join the community experience!

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Photo credit: Bobby Tanzilo

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Save the dates for PrideFest June 5, 6, 7

bannerSave the date for PrideFest Milwaukee, June 5, 6 and 7, 2015, at Henry W. Maier Festival Park, as we host our 28th annual celebration of LGBT culture and community at Milwaukee’s beautiful lakefront.


Celebrating historic successes

Last year, PrideFest Milwaukee welcomed a record-breaking 31,295 visitors to a historic weekend heralding the arrival of marriage equality in Wisconsin.

The three-day weekend celebrated many significant gains, including:

  • Festival sponsorships +40%
  • Advanced / reserved ticket sales +28%
  • Gate ticket sales +22%
  • Vendor participation +20%
  • Overall attendance +3% vs. record

The Plus One Campaign, which allowed ticket holders to pledge an extra $1 to a featured annual cause, generated $2,827 to support the ACLU of Wisconsin in their legal battle for marriage equality. PrideFest sponsor Diamond Nexus generously matched these funds for a total donation of $5,754.

Pridefest 2015 Ad 9.5x10.7“Last year, we struck gold with a diverse entertainment lineup, high-energy events and experiences, and new food and drink options. We worked so hard to bring newness to the grounds, and people really responded to the changes,” said Kate Sherry, festival co-producer.

“Of course, we cannot and should not deny the electrifying emotional climate of PrideFest 2014.  Hosting an LGBT pride festival during such a momentous Wisconsin weekend was a meaningful experience for us all.”

View our 2014 photo collection on Flickr.


Advancing our mission

To support sustainable growth, PrideFest Milwaukee recently applied for and achieved official designation as a 501c3 non-profit organization with the Internal Revenue Service and State of Wisconsin.

In the first quarter of 2015, the 501c4 entity PrideFest Milwaukee, Inc. will be dissolved and reorganized as a new 501c3 entity, Milwaukee Pride, Inc.  The new organization will continue to produce the annual festival. With strategic planning support from Lambert-Pearcy LLC, the Board of Directors and other stakeholders have begun the transition process.

“By reorganizing as a 501c3, Milwaukee Pride, Inc. will enjoy expanded fundraising capabilities not previously available to us,” said Scott Gunkel, PrideFest president.  “Being a PrideFest sponsor or donor now has more favorable financial benefits. We will also be eligible for grants that were previously out of reach. This change is a tremendous investment in the long-term health and wellness of our organization.”

Milwaukee Pride, Inc. has also named three new board members to steward the emerging organization:

  • Jessica Baker
  • Jorna Taylor
  • Eric Heinritz

Other members of the Milwaukee Pride, Inc. board include Stephanie Knuteson, Denise Haussy, Michail Takach, Wes Shaver, Paul Masterson, Tim Talsky, Francisco Araiza and Scott Gunkel.

Countdown to pride

Additional announcements, including ticket prices, box office information, entertainment line-up, schedule of events, contests and promotions, will be released in mid-March.

For up-to-the-minute PrideFest news, follow us on  Facebook and  Twitter.

Without the generous support of our community, PrideFest Milwaukee would not be possible.  We welcome performers, volunteers, vendors, sponsors and media partners to be part of the 2015 festival operation.  To learn more about these opportunities, contact us at info@pridefest.com.

We proudly present our 2014 headliners!


Lisa Lampanelli. Sandra Bernhard. Macy Gray. Chad Michaels. Steve Grand. Mary Lambert. Bruce Vilanch. Big Freedia. And many, many more!

PrideFest Milwaukee is proud to welcome these talented entertainers to Henry W. Maier Festival Park June 6, 7 and 8 for the nation’s largest showcase of LGBT talent. [Read more…]