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Battenkill Valley Pride celebrates an inclusive community at first annual event

Pride Month is under way in Washington County after Battenkill Valley Pride held its first community event.

The Wedding Barn at Lakota’s Farm is buzzing. Both the bounce house on the lawn and the parking lot are full, and Battenkill Valley Pride organizer Jenny Edwards is giddy.

“It’s going awesome. Do you see all these people? It’s amazing to me,” said Edwards.

For Edwards, this is just the beginning.

“We’re so happy to do a pride event. But our goal is to be a resource hub in this area and to also include getting into the area schools through DEI committees. Questioning youth, we want to be there for them. We also have therapists lining up. We also have a church in town that’s said, ‘we will take as many people as you want to send our way. So, this town, it really showed up, really showed up,” said Edwards.

Dozens of vendors have set up shop on the lawn and inside the barn that has been lined with the colors of the rainbow for the celebration.

“That’s the sound of delicious cheeseburgers. Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger. No fries! No nothing else, it’s just cheeseburgers,” said Mark Edwards.

Jenny’s husband Mark and son Judah Edwards are manning a grill. Even with the support of 15 sponsors, today is still a family affair.

“This is wonderful, in Cambridge,” said Mark Edwards.

“A place you would not expect it,” said Judah Edwards.

“Yeah, it’s a beautiful day too,” said Mark Edwards.

Inside the barn, Sara Kelly is passing out buttons that read, “vote with love 2024.” A local for 30 years, she says this day was a long time coming.

“30 years ago, I don’t think it would have been very well received. And now, there’s so many civic organizations and so many other people out here it’s like, ‘yes! Finally!’ So, yes, there’s that. So, it excites me to see it happening,” said Kelly.

In the bottom floor of the barn, owner Kimberly Finney is behind the bar.

She’s hosted other LGBTQ+-friendly events, but not without criticism and threats of boycotts against her venue.

“It made me a little nervous, I won’t lie, from a business standpoint because I just was going to do a few other drag shows this month and then I just, I don’t know I got a lot for this and this has been a lot because it went to be so much further beyond than we ever anticipated. So, I’m like, ‘OK, this is a good month, a good start,’” said Finney.

Finney says the pride celebration grew faster than expected—she even had to turn vendors away.

Jim Beitzel has helped plan numerous pride events across the country over the years, but today he’s happy to sit back and put his feet up.

“I know the amount of work that goes into every little detail, and to see that the organizers here put so much thought into having a very special place for young kids, families, allies, trans people, people who are questioning. One of the people who’s with me today is questioning, and it’s like, how wonderful to have an environment for you to be here with everyone else,” said Beitzel.

Nearly 500 people attended as Battenkill Valley Pride raised more than $2,500.