Arts & Culture, What We're Made Of

What We’re Made Of: Sun Valley Pride

For several years now, Sun Valley Pride has joined the ranks of other meaningful Sun Valley events produced by and for locals, all in the name of providing community. In this case, that community is the LGBTQIA+ community, for which Sun Valley Pride provides a multi-day event full of performers, music, and fun. From what was once a modest singular event to now a full week of both paid and free activities, Sun Valley Pride draws attendees and performers from across the nation.

How It Started

What is now an entire week of Pride events started as just one: Pride in the Garden, at the nonprofit Sawtooth Botanical Garden (SBG). Executive Director Jen Smith had only been in her role for a few years when she suggested the Garden do a Pride event as a way to raise funds. As she says, they didn’t need to do another golf tournament or poker run like other organizations in the area had done as fundraisers. The board went wild, and the first Pride in the Garden event was held in 2021, which Jen describes as “a social justice event trying to bring awareness to the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies and to promote diversity, equity, inclusion—things gardens are all about.”

From its inception, Sun Valley Pride drew people and organizations who wanted to get involved. In the event’s second year, Despo’s came on board and hosted drag bingo. In 2023, the Sun Valley Resort asked to be involved and ultimately became a sponsor and hosted events like queer movie night at the Opera House.

Sun Valley Pride Festival

The Sun Valley Pride Festival was founded in 2023 by David Seelos, an on-and-off resident of the Valley for twelve years. Though David knew about the SBG’s Pride events, he decided that the gay community needed an event that was free and accessible to the whole community. “This is just something we really needed.” Using his background running a talent agency and event company, David decided to put on the first Sun Valley Pride Festival, putting up his own money (in addition to a fair amount of local donations) and recruiting talent and volunteers. What came together was an event that packed Forest Service Park in Ketchum, with drag performers, food truck vendors, and members from across the community.

David was surprised at the lack of pushback to his Pride event, and even more pleasantly surprised to see such a showing from the community, particularly from the younger generation. “It was really cool seeing high school–aged kids with glitter on their faces and holding rainbow flags; kids were crying to see their community finally doing something for them.”

Sun Valley Pride 2024

This year’s Sun Valley Pride (June 26–30) has reason to be the best yet: David and the Sawtooth Botanical Garden have joined forces and, with Sun Valley Resort as a continued sponsor, the festival itself has moved to Festival Meadows on Sun Valley Road, where it promises to be bigger than ever. In addition to drag performers, DJ sets, food trucks, and drinks, the Saturday festival will also feature a full vendor area of queer artists and makers and space for local nonprofits to exhibit.

The week’s events kick off on Wednesday, June 26, with the annual family-friendly Pride in the Garden event at SBG, with music by Johnny V, ’80s tunes, food, and more.

On Thursday, June 27, is Spuds, Studs, & Stilettos, an 18+ drag show at the Argyros with special guests Jessica L’Whor, Cookie Puss, Coco Freeo, and others.

Friday, June 28’s entertainment is all-ages Drag Bingo at the Limelight, with ticket prices including food, drinks, and entertainment.

Saturday, June 29, kicks off with a free Pride March/Ride, where participants are encouraged to bring wheeled transportation and colorful costumes on a route that circumnavigates the Sun Valley Village and ends at Festival Meadows in time for the second annual Sun Valley Pride Festival.

The weekend closes on Sunday, June 30, with Drag Brunch, where you’ll dine alongside some of Idaho’s very own Queens in the beautiful Sawtooth Botanical Garden.

Get more information on Sun Valley Pride!

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