Summer ends in rainbows
Sunday, the giant Midtown block party known as the Rainbow Festival, came to its celebratory end.
The three-day event held to raise money and awareness for local lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) charities in Sacramento as well as celebrate community pride has raised over 500,000 since its inception according to the 2009 website.
Vendors lined 20th and K Streets, offering everything from jewelry to T-shirts to rainbow-hued paraphernalia. Local LGBTQI institutions such as the Lavender Library and Sacramento’s Gay Man’s Chorus hosted booths, handing out fliers and pamphlets with information on events, clubs and volunteer opportunities.
Sacramento State’s Queer Straight Alliance’s tent featured a "Kissin’ Booth," where participants could receive a little love for only a dollar.
A main stage at the corner of K and 20th, adorned with an arch of rainbow balloons, provided a day-long bevy of performances from local and internationally recognized talent. Participants gathered at the foot of the raised stage to watch performances by groups such as Small Difference Women’s Choral Ensemble, Unity Dance Troupe and local band Rendezvous With Cool Beans.
Cheer San Fransico took over a section of the street in front of the stage to thrill onlookers with high-flying stunt action and upbeat dance performances.
A few of the performances, much to the delight of those watching, encouraged audience participation. Jay Henslee, winner of nightclub Faces’ eight-week competition "Queer Idol," tossed shakers to the crowd so they could keep time with his song.
Lauren Hildebrant, a dance artist performing in Sacramento for the first time, had audience members dance on stage during her last song. She then asked the crowd which member "shook it best."
International recording artist, Kristine W, brought a young man on stage to whom she and the crowd sang "Happy Birthday" during her set. One audience member offered the birthday boy a dollar.
"I tell you a drag queen has to shake it long and hard for that," said Kristine. "You did good, honey."
The day’s entertainment kept coming, not only from the artists who took to the stage, but also the drag queens who introduced them. First-time festival attendee Thomas Arballo voiced his appreciation for the emcees.
"My favorite part of the day? I think it would have to be those hot-piece drag queens over there," Arballo said.
Monique Moore, host of the weekly Dragalicious Show at Faces, kept the crowd laughing in between introducing the performers.
At one point she brought a fellow drag queen on stage, asking, "Want to switch hair?" Long, light brown and curly was traded for short and platinum blonde with bangs.
"Don’t you steal that, girl," Moore said as she watched her wig walk off the stage. "That hair ain’t cheap."
The antics of the emcees contributed to the festive environment that continued throughout the day. Kalia Sandoval, Sacramento resident and first-time festival attendee said she and her friends experienced a new and "cooler" side of Sacramento at Rainbow Festival 2009.
"We came because we wanted to have fun, and we definitely did," Sandoval said. "It’s been a crazy day. Lots of love."
"Queer Idol" winner Henslee noted how the communal and family-friendly atmosphere of the festival allowed Sacramentans from all walks of life to enjoy the weekend-long party in Midtown.
"I think it’s a great representation of not just Sacramento diversity, but also of people respecting others," Henslee said. "I love that Sacramento does this year after year. It says a lot about the city and also the people who organize it."
Photo Credit: anthonybento.com