On Sunday, June 5, the small town of Pine City will again be the setting of one of the few rural LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) pride celebrations in the world, ‘East Central Minnesota Pride.’

2016 marks the 12th anniversary of this event which offers music, food and a rendezvous of friends, family and community in a new location – downtown Pine City in the Robinson Park town square. Having moved from across the Snake River in Voyageur Park to the heart of Pine City, this year’s gathering promotes the theme “Pride in the Heart.”

“We’ve managed to overcome all of the obstacles thrown our way by the people who are less open-minded than us, and yet we’re still here,” said Ariel Dunbar of Pine City, a member of the East Central Minnesota Pride Board. “We’re still growing stronger”.

Headlining Pride is Minneapolis-based, British singer-songwriter Katy Vernon. Also performing are North Branch-based The Neighberz Band, no stranger to East Central Minnesota, and Duluth-based “Take It With You” live radio theatre. Twin Cities Public Television’s Val Mondor returns as this year’s emcee and Geo Montecillo will deejay.

This celebration serves the five county region of East Central Minnesota, Pine, Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec and Mille Lacs Counties, and attracts attendees from the hubs of the region such as North Branch (population 10,087), and even its tiny villages, like Denham (population 34).

East Central Minnesota Pride involves many collaborators including East Central Minnesota Men’s Circle, East Central Minnesota Purple Circle, East Central Minnesota chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Rural Aids Action Network, Rainbow Health Initiative and OutFront Minnesota, among others.

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