Prizm News / August 26, 2019 / By Katie Hobbins

The Rainbow Squirrel Festival Comes to Kent for Pride in October

Coined as the first Pride in the city of Kent, the Rainbow Squirrel Festival (RSF) has been many months in the making and a long time in the coming. Hosted by PRIDE! Kent, a Kent State University student organization, RSF will have been in the works for five months when the celebration finally arrives on Oct. 3. According to Jacob Dudley, president of PRIDE! Kent and chairperson of the RSF Planning Committee, an event like this was sorely overdue.

“I think the biggest reason it has taken so long is that it takes a lot of time and effort to start a festival from scratch,” explains Jacob Dudley, president of PRIDE! Kent and chairperson of the Rainbow Squirrel Festival planning committee. “However, the response we have gotten from people in Kent makes me think that a pride festival was a matter of when, not if.”

With a name as unique as the Rainbow Squirrel Festival, Dudley said that the committee wanted to create a title that felt different, while also including the Kent community and its reputation for black squirrels. 

“I originally posed the name as a bit of a joke,” laughs Dudley. “It’s based off of the name of a Kent State event known as the Black Squirrel Festival. I think it’s fitting.”

Noting that most Pride events happen during the summer, Dudley explained that there were two reasons that the event landed in October. 

“One of our key target demographics is college students, but campus is virtually deserted during summer,” explains Dudley. “That meant we would have to do the festival when everyone returned in the fall. The reason we picked October is that it is LGBTQ+ History Month.”

As a bisexual man, he says that he kept a few questions in mind when planning the event. 

“I asked myself, what if there was a local pride festival while I was in the closet?” says Dudley. “Would I have been more comfortable with who I am sooner?  I want to give people the chance I didn’t have.”

With the promise of vendors, info tables, and a ball inspired by the FX show Pose, Dudley is excited for the community to come together for the festival and hopes it can be expanded in the future. 

“I hope to provide a space for queer-identifying individuals to go and feel safe and comfortable to express who they are,” He said. 

The Rainbow Squirrel Festival is scheduled for October 3 from 2-8pm at Risman Plaza. Organizers are accepting interested vendors and sponsors, and encourage people to contact the committee through their email, rainbowsquirrelfestivalinfo@gmail.com

Katie Hobbins is a freelance journalist with a concentration in LGBTQ, entertainment and investigative journalism. Follow her at Katie_Hobbins on Twitter and Wheremyfeetmayfall.com.