Gay Pride festival returns to Hemel Hempstead this week

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Frills, frocks and frolics will be the name of the game in Gadebridge Park, when Herts Pride returns on Saturday (September 2).

From its humble beginnings as a blue sky idea five years ago, Hertfordshire’s biggest LGBT event has rapidly expanded and has the Hemel Hempstead park selected as its venue of choice.

Organiser Clive Duffy said: “Last year was excellent, it was a real success.

“Dacorum Borough Council were brilliant and the deputy mayor even attended last year’s event as a special guest.

“What we like about Gadebridge Park is its size, it’s easy to get to and has plenty of parking with no noise to disturb anyone.”

In addition to a host of legendary drag queens such as La Voix, Sandra London and Miss Jason, local acts have been recruited to add a touch of real Hertfordshire flavour.

These include soul duo Ruby Groove, which counts DJ Julia Coots among its singers. St Albans singer Kane Coxhall will also be taking to the main stage, as well as Hemel Hempstead’s own native drag queen Jessica Colita.

Mr Duffy said: “Everything has gone really well, we’ve managed to cover the costs of putting the events on. That’s a really warming thing to happen.

“There are 30 different acts this year, it’s non-stop entertainment from 11am to 10pm.”

This year marks the event’s fifth anniversary and the second time it has been held in Gadebridge Park. The previous three pride events all took place at Cassiobury Park in Watford.

Mr Duffy said: “What we’ve achieved in five years, a lot of other prides have taken 10. We’ve been able to produce a pride event of that type very quickly.

“There’s a dedicated team of us who volunteer all year long to make it happen.

“It’s an LGBT event that’s here for the wider community. There’s also a wellbeing tent with lots of stallholders from charities.

“We’re looking to expand, and there definitely is room for working with businesses.”

The Rose and Crown pub in Hemel’s Old Town will once again host an after-party from 10pm when the event closes. Its owners have been strong supporters of Herts Pride and regularly host LGBT evenings to help fundraise for the annual event.

Mr Duffy added: “Everybody is welcome, you don’t have to be LGBT to attend. We call other people our straight allies, it’s a great day out for the family, with a fun fair, food stalls and a bar.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, see the website www.hertspride.co.uk

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