Pacific Pride Festival in Santa Barbara.
A drag queen performs during the Pacific Pride Festival at Chase Palm Park Field in Santa Barbara on Saturday. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

At a time when an increase in violence against the LGBTQ+ community has been reported across the nation, hundreds of people of all ages attended the Pacific Pride Foundation’s annual Pacific Pride Festival in Santa Barbara on Saturday to share pride, joy and connection.

The free event was held at Chase Palm Park Field near the beach and featured live entertainment, food trucks, games and more.

“This year’s festival finds us at a time when an increase in attacks against members of the LGBTQ+ community, both nationally and locally, have targeted those we love through violence, legislation and acts of intimidation,” said Kristin Flickinger, executive director of the Pacific Pride Foundation. “Pride is about celebrating each individual in their wholeness.”

Pacific Pride Festival in Santa Barbara.
Sam Guerrero sits at her booth at the Pacific Pride Festival, where she was selling pride-themed crochet items such as keychains and plushies. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

The pride festival also included a Justice Action Center, sponsored by The Fund for Santa Barbara, with information booths for local organizations, such as the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, the Santa Barbara Lavender Elders and Casa Pacifica’s Safe Alternatives for Treating Youth program, and local elected representatives were available for office hours.

Vendors at the festival included food trucks, henna and face painting, local artists and more.

Artists selling handmade items mostly focused on or included pride-themed items, such as a booth with pride-themed crochet keychains and crochet plushies at Sam Guerrero’s “Sam’s Endless Hobbies” booth.

“This is my first year selling, so it’s definitely nerve-wracking. But it’s an awesome opportunity,” said Guerrero, who is from Lompoc. “I’m just grateful to be part of the LGBT community to even have the inspiration to make this stuff.”

Entertainment consisted of performances by drag queens, the Santa Barbara Gay Men’s Chorus, dance groups and musical artists, and more, with Calypso Jeté Balmain headlining. 

There was also a bounce house, games, a beer garden, a silent disco in a sober space, and other activities.

People of all ages — both people in the LGBTQ+ community and allies — attended the festival.

“It’s so great to be able to expose [my kids] to so much love, and we’re having a blast,” said Molly Sobhani, who was enjoying the live performances with her two young children, Roman and Logan.

“I think it’s incredible to see — with how Santa Barbara is known to be a small town — to see such an incredible turnout and the community and all the support,” said Matty Magnin, a volunteer at the Pacific Pride Festival.

Pacific Pride Festival in Santa Barbara.
Molly Sobhani watches the performers with her two sons, Logan and Roman, at Santa Barbara’s Pacific Pride Festival on Saturday. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

Dozens of volunteers helped run the event while providing a safe space for everyone to come together.

“The amount of people who have come up to us saying, ‘Thank you so much,’” volunteer Sara Jane McQuaid said. “Everyone’s so thankful and just like a welcoming, supportive community.”

To allow it to be accessible to all, the Pacific Pride Festival included simultaneous Spanish, Mixteco, and ASL interpretation for the stage program, as well as a designated raised platform for those with wheelchairs and mobility differences to view the stage entertainment without issue.

More information on the Pacific Pride Foundation and the work it does, as well as information on volunteering and donating, is available on the foundation’s website here.