According to downtown Ames’ fourth annual Pridefest, expressing individual pride in any form is an important aspect to the Ames community. The celebration, entitled “PROUD to be me!,” is hosted by Youth Services and began Sunday. The festivities will continue until Sunday.
The main event of this year’s fest is the story walk where community members and visitors are able to read the children’s book, “Pride: the Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag” by Rob Sanders and Stephen Salerno.
By taking a short walk downtown, anyone is able to read the book page by page on each business’ window. The story walk begins at the Ames Public Library, continues down Main street, and ends at the Great Harvest Bakery and Cafè. Along with the conclusion of the book, Great Harvest will display a biographical timeline of the flag.
This story promotes love and equality by teaching readers the importance of the rainbow flag, what it stands for and how it was created.
It tells the story of how Harvey Milk, a social activist, and Gilbert Baker, a designer, created the pride flag and how it spread throughout the world.
While the story walk is the main event for the fest, it is not the only interactive option. The library is also giving the opportunity for people of all ages to share their pride through the “PROUD To Be Me” activity.
“Everyone can participate and there isn’t necessarily any particular thing, but we all have things to celebrate together- of who we are,” Jerri Heid, Youth Services Head, said.
For this activity, participants can trace and cut out their hand on a piece of provided and colorful paper and list five things they love or are proud of about themselves.
At the end of the week, Heid will display each paper hand on the library's windows to create a rainbow that shows off the city’s pride and support.
In addition to the week-long activities, Pridefest also has daily events to attend. For example, 14-year-old drag queen Lonika Labelle Knight performed the book “Llama Glamarama” by Simon James Green during a storytime held at Dog-Eared Books on Sunday.
Another event, focusing on how to find gender-affirming health care, will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday over Zoom. Dr. Katie Larson Ode, an endocrinologist, and Joe Nixon, a mental health provider, will share their experiences on helping trans and nonbinary patients meet their health care needs.
To end the pride-filled week, the Ames Public Library will hold a storytime and stone painting session with Sandra Marcu, the director of the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity. A “kindness stone” will be provided to participants so they can decorate them with paint and messages of kindness. They will also be able to hide their stones so others can find them and post the kind message they found.
More information on Pridefest can be found at www.amespride.org.