Pride parade

Parade participants wait in line before the Big Sky Pride parade in downtown Billings in 2017.

While it won’t be the statewide Pride event that drew at least 3,000 people last year, organizers hope Saturday’s Pride celebration, dubbed Billings Pride 2018, will be fun, spirited, funny and educational.

406 Pride, the local Pride chapter hosting the event, plans to open the day at 10 a.m. with a no-host brunch at Bin 119 Kitchen & Wine Bar, 119 N. Broadway. Groups that partner with 406 Pride will be on hand to talk and answer questions, including the Southeast Montana Prime Timers, a group for gay and bisexual men 55 and older. 406 Pride organizers will use the occasion to distribute event T-shirts.

At 2 p.m., a parade will begin in front of the former Good Earth Market, 3024 First Ave. N. It’ll proceed down Second Avenue North, turn on North 20th Street, and head toward North Park, the parade endpoint.

At 3 p.m., the Pride festival begins at North Park, with a beer garden opening at 4 p.m.

As of Thursday, more than 30 organizations and businesses had committed to presenting information and talks during the festival, which will also include food trucks, HIV testing, live entertainment, and a cornhole tournament.

At 6 p.m., the stage will be turned over to the Montana Drag Performers, who will dress up, lip sync and dance. 

At 8 p.m., six standup comics will take the sound stage. Once they’re done, the celebration will continue with an after-party dance at the Loft Dance Club, 1123 First Ave. N.

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The Magic City Rollers are doing their part, said Shauna Goubeaux, one of the event organizers. The Rollers will host a bout against a rival squad to support Pride at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Shrine Auditorium, 1125 Broadwater Ave.

It's not the biggest Pride event to happen in Montana this year. Big Sky Pride, which rotates from town to town, celebrated 25 years in Helena in June.

Saturday’s festivities also mark the beginning of an effort to renovate a former child care facility adjacent to Billings First Congregational Church, 310 N. 27th St. That revitalized space, scheduled for a Dec. 1 opening, will be a resource center for the area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Not only will the center hold books and other information, it will be designed as a space for youth to drop in after school, Goubeaux said. It’ll also be a meeting space, including the home for a new book club launching in October.

One goal, she said, is to bring in workshop leaders to help educate health care providers on treating people in the LGBTQ community.

“We’re still raising money” for the renovation, Goubeaux said. “That’s our vision. That’s what we want to bring to the Magic City, and we need people to help us realize that dream.”

Learn more by going to 406pride.org or by visiting the organization’s Facebook page.

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City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.