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Spencer Pride Working With Town Officials On Pride Fest

Spencer Town Council with Balash

Spencer Pride President Jonathan Balash (right) discusses event plans with Spencer Town Council President Mike Spinks (left) and Councilmember Dean Bruce (center) at the Council's Jan. 21 meeting. (Mitch Legan, WTIU/WFIU News)

Spencer Pride is working with town officials to plan the group’s annual Pride Fest.

The Spencer Pride Fest will not be held at the Owen County Courthouse in Spencer for the first time in 13 years, after the Owen County Commissioners passed a new festival ordinance last month that makes it difficult to hold a special event on county grounds. Spencer Pride says the ordinance is a roundabout way of keeping its annual LGBTQ event off county property.

Spencer Pride President Jonathan Balash received tentative approval for street closures from the Spencer Town Council during its meeting Tuesday night.

“It’s a plan,” says Spencer Town Council President Mike Spinks. “We’ll try to work with you to get it worked out, but we just wanna make sure we cover our bases and everyone understands what’s going on.”

The council agreed to close off parts of Main, Franklin and Washington streets for the June 6 festival if Balash double-checks with local businessowners and makes sure they are aware of the festival. 

“Our theme this year is ‘Officially Into The Streets,’” Balash says. “It’s intended really as a double entendre – physically, we’re getting a little bit more into the streets, because we’re getting off of the courthouse lawn. But also, our people are up in arms and they’re riled up on the attack on our downtown events that the commissioners began. And they want to show their support.”

Balash discussed logistics, security and traffic with officials. Both sides agreed they wanted Spencer’s biggest festival to serve as a sort of blueprint for other future events.

“We were really thinking about it from terms of sustainability,” Balash says. “Not just, ‘What does Spencer Pride need? What does Spencer Pride need in 2020?’ But how can we best spend our money so that Spencer Pride and Rev 20 and all the other downtown events have what they need as we move forward?”

Balash and town officials agreed to meet after the festival in June to debrief over the process – something that had not been done with county officials in years past.

Balash says he is “more than happy” to comply with the Council’s request and will report back during its next meeting on Feb. 3.

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