North Texas Daily

Denton Pride Foundation holds first annual Halloween Fest

Denton Pride Foundation holds first annual Halloween Fest

Denton Pride Foundation holds first annual Halloween Fest
November 01
16:23 2019

On Oct. 31, the Denton Pride Foundation hosted their annual Denton Halloween Fest, which consisted of a drag show, costume contest, games, dancing, live music, food and more. 

With this year being the first event, months of planning took place to ensure that everything was in line when it came to be the day of the event. 

“We’ve done three months of hard work,” said Brian Ivanchan, Denton Pride Foundation founder and president and Denton resident. “We’ve done everything from organizing people and volunteers, to completely stocking up on decorations, things to do, talents and bands. Only about 10 to 15 of us have been working for months to make it happen.”

The idea for the Halloween Fest was sprouted from the annual Pride Fest that the Denton Pride Foundation hosts. This year in particular, the Pride Fest had a great turnout, so the foundation decided to host another event.

“Halloween was the LGBT holiday before we had pride and pride season,” Ivanchan said. “We want to go back to that and give people a time to come out and have fun and be themselves, especially here in the heart of Texas.”

Attracting young people is one of the main goals that the Halloween Fest founders had in mind, Ivanchan said. 

“Earlier this year, we had so many young people come out to our pride event — probably about 30% of people there were young adults,” Ivanchan said. “There is a need for events for young adults, whether they be in a southern family that doesn’t allow them to be themselves, or they’re here at college, and when they’re home they can’t be themselves, so they can come here and celebrate Halloween.”

The Halloween Fest fostered an environment that allows the gay community to be themselves openly without judgement in a supportive environment.

“We’re unapologetically throwing [this event],” Ivanchan said. “If people don’t want to come because [it’s hosted by the Pride Foundation], that’s fine. We’re here to be visible for people who need to see us.”

People who attended the event got to form local allies within the gay community and other local supporters. 

“This event has allowed community members that normally don’t meet each other on a day to day basis get to know our allies,” said Gordy Carmona, Plano resident and Gay and Lesbian Alliance of North Texas community building chair. 

At the Halloween Fest, the drag show was a unique showcase that gave local drag performers an opportunity to show off their talents. 

“95% [of performers] are local talent,” Ivanchan said. “We wanted to give local performers a platform to showcase their talents. We have one or two performers coming from Dallas, but most are from Denton, which is the best talent you can find.”

Audience members particularly enjoyed getting to see the drag performers. 

“My favorite part of this event was the drag show and all of the costumes,” said Andrea Rodriguez, theatre junior and Halloween Fest attendee.

The drag performers were important to the overall event, and the Halloween Fest host was in close communication with local talents to get the best pool of performers possible. 

“We have some performers that I’ve been wanting to work with for a very long time, and I’ve finally convinced them to come out,” said Mary Anne Somers, Denton resident and Halloween Fest emcee and host.

In addition to performers, there were 35 vendors at the event, ranging from food trucks, crafters psychic readers, artists and other items for sale like jewelry and clothing. Most of the vendors were from the Denton area.

In order to establish connections with local businesses, Ivanchan reached out to local companies to ask for support. Most of the companies were excited and willing to support the cause. 

The event was free to attendees, so Ivanchan had to partner with the community to fund the event. Money was raised through parking fees, vendor fees and the beer booth, but most of the funding came from donations.

The Halloween Fest gave the LGBT community an opportunity to unite through the spirit of Halloween, and community members found it to be successful in doing so. 

“Events like this are important for the Denton community because there are a lot of different people and people from different places and customs and they like to get creative and dress up,” Rodriguez said. “It’s fun that we can all come here and accept one another.”

One of the goals for the Halloween Fest was to provide visibility and support for the LGBT community, especially those who may not have support otherwise, Ivanchan said. 

“It’s more about visibility for our LGBT youth,” Carmona said. “It’s not often that they get to see positive role models. It’s changing, but not as fast as it could be.”

After the event, Halloween Fest hosts and planners got to see the impact they made on the Denton community through the spirited event.

“It’s the best Halloween ever,” Ivanchan said.

Featured Image: Judas Cain performs during the Denton Halloween Fest drag show hosted by Denton Pride on Oct. 31, 2019. Image by Isabel Anes

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Maria Lawson

Maria Lawson

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