KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Organizers for this year’s Knoxville PrideFest are getting ready for the events. They say this year’s event is drawing more people than ever before. More vendors have signed up and more groups are participating in the parade showing support after the terrorist attack last weekend at the Orlando nightclub.
Festival treasurer Joe Jackson says more than 100 vendors will be at World’s Fair Park for the festival.
“The vendors are probably up 10 to 15 percent this year. It would be up more but that’s because we can’t get any more vendors on the site,” said Jackson.
The PrideFest parade kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday. Jackson says normally around 80 groups sign up to participate. This year they have around 100 groups planning to be in the parade.
“We have marching units. We have decorated cars. We have motorcycles,” said Jackson.
The parade ends at World’s Fair Park and then the festival begins. Jackson says normally 15,000 people attend. This year organizers say they expect 20,000 people go to the festival.
“The festival this year, as you can imagine after what has transpired over the last week, has grown immensely,” said Jackson.
Previous story: Knoxville’s PrideFest carries on despite Orlando shooting
PrideFest volunteer Sarah-Michelle Collier hopes people who attend for the first time will leave with a new perspective.
“Come in to take a stance against terrorism and walk out with a whole never community that you’re open to,” said Collier.
Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch says law enforcement have been holding meetings all week and security will be tight. Jackson says he’s confident festival goers will be safe.
“We have prepared for the ‘what if.’ There is going to be security everywhere tomorrow. There will be bag checks when you come in,” he said