BY ASHLEY FISCHER Contributing writer
For a rollicking, glitzy, Gaga-filled good time, head out to Stramler Park for Kern County's only annual gay pride event.
Hosted by Bakersfield LGBTQ, the ninth annual Bakersfield Pride will once again be held in Stramler Park, providing a day of food, music and entertainment for all.
9th Annual Bakersfield Pride
When: 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Stramler Park, 3805 Chester Ave.
Admission: $7 in advance; $10 at the door; kids 10 and under are free
Information: 302-4266 or firstname.lastname@example.org
"We have folk singers and we have belly dancers, we have a blues, we have rock, and we have the best darn drag queen show you'll ever see," said Whitney Weddell, director of Bakersfield LGBTQ.
The little ones will stay occupied with "Kidzone," an elaborate play area that includes carnival games, prizes, a bounce house and even Bobo the clown.
For the adults, there will be up to 40 vendors selling a wide variety of items, local gay and lesbian supportive organizations with informational booths, raffles, and enough musical entertainment to keep attendees dancing throughout the afternoon and well into the evening.
"The music is the thing we try to change up the most," Weddell said. "But we also try to keep people's old favorites, so the entertainment isn't completely different."
Returning this year is fan favorite Michelle Weingarden, as well as Rainbow Voices, a local gay chorus.
New acts include blues artist Tess O'Hara, and Syster D will be finishing off the musical performances with covers of classic rock staples.
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Kern County will once again be cooking up hamburgers, hot dogs and Frito boats (or any other creative combination of those three items you wish to try), as well as full tri-tip plates. Beer and soda will be available to wash it all down with.
But as the sun sets, the stars come out in full force for the evening's crowning event: the illustrious drag show, hosted by Valerie Soleil and featuring performances by nine of Bakersfield's most stellar entertainers.
"Our drag queens are very serious queens, and they do an extraordinary job of putting on the show," said Weddell. "These are really talented people, and they're all in really amazing character. You might see Madonna, you might see Lady Gaga, you might see any of those iconic female performers -- Marilyn Monroe, Cher, Nicki Minaj; you just never know."
Speaking of Lady Gaga, this year's chosen theme of "Born This Way" is lifted directly from the lyrics of Gaga's anthemic hit, so Weddell advised that guests can expect to hear the song played more than a few times during the course of the day.
Weddell, who said the event continues to grow in size and scale, expects about 1,000 attendees Saturday. Bakersfield Pride raises somewhere in the area of $5,000 to $8,000 each year, and all of the proceeds go directly to support the organization's mission of providing advocacy, information and support to Kern County's LGBTQ community.
"I think if you're already out, if you're already somebody who's comfortable at home, Bakersfield Pride is a wonderful day to come out and enjoy the company of others," she said. "If you're someone who's not as out, it really gives people an opportunity to come out and network and socialize. At our core, what we're hoping to provide for people is the opportunity to connect.
"If people are dealing with family difficulties at home, and you need to know who to call, where to get information, and where to get help, we really want to be a provider of that."