“This is my last year of running it. I will remain on the board, but you know I’m hoping someone will step up and take this over,” Barnes says. “It’s about 20 hours a week, and it’s, of course, a volunteer job, so I have to say the call for a leader has been out about six months and I have yet to hear from a soul.”
Barnes has been involved with Sarasota Pride since 2006, but became the chairman in 2010 and moved the festival to October – and out of from indoors and into the park.
“We took it to the streets of Sarasota and got out of the venue,” Barnes says.
Barnes’ announcement that she was stepping down as chairman led many to speculate whether this would be the final year for Sarasota Pride, an idea Barnes refuses to let happen.
“I doubt that. We’ve got a board; this isn’t going to be the last year of it, that’s for sure,” Barnes says. “That’s why I’m staying on the board, because I’ve been here so long, and I’ve got the connections in the community; I think just quitting and walking away is not the proper thing to do.”
Barnes hopes someone will step up soon, and while she admits the job requires a very large commitment, she also says that running the festival is more an act of maintaining than having to build right now.
“It’s almost a canned event now. We have the same park, and we have pretty much the same layout every year,” Barnes says. “It just continues to get bigger, and at some point in time when we outgrow that park, somebody is going to have to make the decision to take it somewhere else, but you can’t beat the eyes from 220,000 cars driving through that intersection every day, so it’s the best visibility in Sarasota.”
With this being Barnes’ final year leading the charge for Sarasota Pride, she has built a festival, themed “Color the World with Pride,” that she promises will deliver the goods.
This year, Sarasota’s 26th celebrating Pride, will kick off at high noon with a performance from the all-female troupe The Cheaters.
“We have live music all day. There’s beer gardens, tiki bars, a kids’ zone. We are up to almost a hundred vendors,” Barnes says.“It’s going to be a busy day, and there is something there for everybody to enjoy.”