Ozarks Pridefest canceled for 2021 due to COVID-19

Jackie Rehwald
Springfield News-Leader

The Ozarks Pridefest has again been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

In past years, Ozarks Pridefest attracted thousands of LGBTQ+ community members, allies, and families to Park Central Square from at least a four-state region. 

In a news release, the Ozarks Pridefest committee attributed the decision to the "overwhelming number of hospitalizations caused by COVID-19 and the strain that has place on our region's health care system."

The festival was canceled in 2020 for the same reason.

"The committee has spent the past three months monitoring the situation and discussing potential alternatives in order to protect the health and safety of the LGBTQ+ community and our allies," the release said. "Unfortunately, the committee came to the conclusion this week that an event would not be possible this fall."

Thousands attended the Ozarks Pridefest parade in downtown Springfield on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019.

Ozarks Pridefest, The GLO Center, and PFLAG Springfield are urging the community to get vaccinated, the release said.

"Achieving higher levels of vaccination and stopping the spread of COVID-19 will allow us to come together in-person for Pridefest in 2022," the release said. 

Ozarks Pridefest was launched more than 20 years ago and evolved from some 500 people gathering in Phelps Grove Park to about 4,500 attending the festival in the square. 

The festival was held in June — pride month — until 2019, when organizers pushed Springfield's Pridefest back from June to October to accommodate people who wanted to attend both Pridefest and Juneteenth.

June is known as pride month because it's the anniversary of the 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar. Many credit the riots for sparking efforts by LGBT Americans to advocate for equality.