Last year at this time, organizers of the very first Manatee County Pride Festival were hoping that they'd get 1,000 people to turn up at the Bradenton Riverwalk.
Halfway through, they were estimating the crowd at 50 percent more than that.
The second annual Manatee County Pride Festival is scheduled for this weekend. After the success of last year's festival -- which drew rave reviews along with larger-than-expected crowds -- there's every reason to expect this year's festival to be even bigger.
It will definitely be longer. It's slated to start at noon and run until 5 p.m., an hour later than last year.
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It's organized by Prism, a Bradenton nonprofit that provides services for young people (ages 13-23) who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or who may be questioning their gender identity or sexual preference.
Everyone's encouraged to the attend Saturday's free event -- and last year's festival drew people from a wide range of ages, genders, races and sexual identities -- but one of the ideas is to attract local LGBT young people so that young people who may be feeling isolated will see that they're part of a community.
It's an afternoon of gourmet food trucks, craft beer, local food vendors and live music. The featured entertainer is Serena ChaCha, whom you may know from "RuPaul's Drag Race."
ChaCha will also be among the entertainers at the Official Pride After Party Saturday night at the Throb Entertainment Complex, 2201 Industrial Blvd., Sarasota. The party is free if you get there before 10 p.m and $5 after that. The entertainment starts at 12:30 a.m.
Details: Noon-5 p.m. March 21, Riverwalk Pavilion and event area, 452 Third Ave. W., Bradenton. Admission: Free. Information: 941-357-0111, manateepride.com.
-- Marty Clear