Picture it: The meeting is set at Eyrie Vineyards, and several local business owners within the LGBTQIA+ community gather to discuss this year’s Wine Country Pride. Amongst them:  Two founders of wineries, two founders of a fresh-cut flower shop, the owner of a dance academy, an event coordinator, plus several other impressive individuals. A man with a pen introduces himself as “the scribe,” and a dog excitedly barks in the background. Someone joins from Austin via zoom, and coffee has already been mentioned twice.

Can it get any more Oregonian than that?

2022 is not the first time Oregon Wine Country Pride will host a pride month, but this year is stepping confidently onto the shoulders of previous celebrations and taking its rightful place in the sunlight. It’s not to be missed, and I was lucky enough to see behind the curtain and experience a sample of just how much work goes into these events. So get your rainbow flags ready to enjoy this year’s many celebrations, but take with you these 5 important things I learned as a fly on the wall.

Pride is based on love, and that’s only been proven truer by the obvious hard work that goes into it.

It’s Wine Country Pride, so of course there is a special wine, bottled and labeled just for Pride. But you must act fast, there are limited cases produced.

Wine Country Pride’s Steering Committee is putting in the work, so come Pride 2022, the community can celebrate! Cheers to love, safety, and the incredible work that WCP has done to create the space for them to flourish!

What I learned…

  1. Safety comes first.

There are a lot of images that may come to mind when picturing Pride. Google the word and you will see rainbows for days, hearts, dancing and celebrations, elaborate colorful costumes, laughter, joy, and unapologetic love. But none of that is possible if the space doesn’t feel safe. As I watched the meeting commence on Wine Country Pride, it was palpable right from the beginning that the top priority of organizing this event is creating a space where people feel safe. Without that, the rainbows, hearts, dancing, elaborate costumes and unapologetic love all grow muted by the fear of harm, the very opposite of what Pride is about. I counted the word “safety” spoken over 20 times in the meeting, and that’s only the word on its own. Add onto that words such as freedom, which in the context implies that sense of safety, and the number grows much larger than that.

I have lived in mostly liberal cities my entire life, so I understand that for many people, (especially those of us not within the LGBTQIA+ community) it’s believed that Pride attracts safety because the heart of Pride is pure love. But almost as soon as the meeting began, one of the co-founders half-joked the reminder that a large amount of the population would take away their rights, and perhaps even their lives, if given the chance. It was a sobering moment to remember that while LGBTQIA+ rights have come along way, those rights are delicate, and finding a safe space to celebrate one’s true, authentic self is not as easy as booking a venue and showing up. That’s why it is so important that safety comes first. For Wine Country Pride, this extends from its advertising, to sponsors, vendors, performers, and even the language that is used when talking about Pride. Making sure it is known that Wine Country Pride means Pride for all intersectionalities. And at the event, the LGBTQIA+ community is not required to spend their energy on anything other than themselves. No one will be required to buy anything, while the option is still there for queer folks and allies alike.

The Wine Country Pride Steering Committee raised over $20,000 in 2021 for scholarships for local LGBTQ+ youth, and to support queer friendly future local LGBTQ+ focused activities!

Purchases that contribute to the Rainbow Fund will be re-directed towards the future safety of the LGBTQIA+ community, with percentages going towards scholarships and a Q center for queer youth. The website references several organizations to learn more about queer history, as well as other websites allies can refer to in order to further their understanding of what’s at stake for this community.

Pride should be about love and freedom, but that’s hard to nurture without safety, and a lot of the work that goes on behind the scenes of Pride consists around making sure every individual at Pride is first and foremost safe to express themselves as authentically as they like.

Remy of Remy Wines (and co-founder of WCP) teams up with a 2021 participant to fiercely defend the love and safety WCP has established.

Pride is a family affair and participants of all ages can join in activities like the PFLAG Parade and Picnic, June 26th, 2022.

2. A lot of work, dedication, and organization go into creating that space.

 It’s a common story. We get invited to a party. We show up. We dance, drink, laugh, and have a good time. We go home. We don’t see the before or after. We don’t necessarily even see the work going on during the event. The same is true here. While shadowing the Wine Country Pride meeting, I was floored by the sheer amount of work that goes into organizing a Pride event. Meetings are set and subgroups are created months ahead of time, and most of what you’ll be enjoying on the 25th was birthed from ideas made up to a year ago at last year’s events.

Thought is put into the tiniest of details from what language to use when contacting someone or advertising for Pride, to how many bathrooms to place where, and how accessible is each and every aspect of each and every event. This year’s Wine Country Pride will include up to 90 (that’s right y’all… NINETY) vendors, and this is the first year that will end with an epic “extravaganza” (mark your calendars for June 25th). But don’t wait until then, as the epic street market in McMinnville should not be missed.

The meeting I attended was a coming together of the different subgroups that had been assigned earlier in the year (from entertainment, to PR and marketing, to facilities and vendors, etc.). Each subgroup has a series of their own meetings to keep everything involving Pride planned and considered from multiple angles. The “Core Group” then ties the event together, given the feedback each subgroup has offered.

Creating opportunities for safe spaces for queer humans of all ages and identities is part of the mission of Wine Country Pride. Drag shows are one way to celebrate queer culture and WCP has hosted several during Pride and beyond!

 

Budgets must be set and tested. Grants must be applied for and, in turn, accepted or declined.  When acquiring sponsors, it’s not as easy as saying, “Come support this great event!” Sponsors want to see proposals, organizational structures, proof of officers, and lists of the board of directors. Add a mission statement onto that, applications for performers and vendors alike, details like who can accept tips and why, and you’ve started to make some progress. As Co-founder, Remy Drabkin said, “Data is key.”

Co-founder Kristin Stoller added an emphasis on the upcoming rollout. “I would like us to have really confirmed and confident data for the requirements for vendors, sponsors and performers before our second meeting in April,” she said, “so we all feel strongly about what we need from our community, and what all of us are asking for when engaging with the community.”

That doesn’t even cover the city planning. Where on the map does one also need a liquor license and/or street permit? How big is this event going to be and where is everything going to be put? Do the utilities available have limitations? Are utilities available at all? (Makes you happy that all you need to do is show up, huh??)

All of those decisions are made ahead of Pride for the sole purpose of allowing the event itself to feel fun and effortless for those attending.

The first Wine Country Pride in 2020 – the Valley was there for it!

Because the first Wine Country Pride was held in 2020 during the first year of Covid, organizers had to get creative and hold a car parade.

3. Pride wouldn’t be what it is without community.

The co-founders of Wine Country Pride are Remy Drabkin and Kristin Stoller, but the list of participants putting Pride together are more than can fit on this page. Dane, Sarah, Gretchen, Jenna, John H., Zach, John P., Janet, Jason, Brit, Jacob and Casey are just some of the names I heard mentioned while shadowing the meeting. And that’s just the meeting! From volunteers to vendors, sponsors, performers, attendees and allies, Pride is lifted up by its community.  During the meeting one thing that stuck out was how many people wanted to help. There can be no Wine Country Pride without Wine Country, and what has proven to be true from past events is that Pride is not only something Wine Country in Oregon supports, but something it actively wants and hopes to see more of throughout the years. The community is a big part of what makes the effort worthwhile: the coming together of different people with different backgrounds in order to celebrate their queer neighbors, families, and friends.

So many businesses have stepped up to show support by flying flags, donating to Wine Country Pride, or serving up special Pride themed food and drink offerings. Pollinat Flowers has offered free flags to businesses in the Valley. These pictured are just a few.

Local Flow Health Bar in McMinnville

The Good Company (Cheese) in Newberg

Winderlea Winery in Dundee

First Baptist Church in McMinnville

Et Fille Tasting Room in Newberg

Barley and Vine Tavern downtown Newberg

Andante Vineyards in Dallas

Furioso Vineyards and Wooden Heart Food in Dundee

The Dundee hotel, of course!

4. Pride doesn’t end on July 1st.

Pride extends throughout the month of June, and the main event of this year’s Wine Country Pride will take place on Saturday June 25th. One of the aspects of the meeting that struck me, however, was the emphasis on the future. Pride is a time to show up authentically, but a lot of systems are also put in place to raise money for future scholarships, fund a Q center for queer youth, place a spotlight on LGBTQIA+ organizations within the community, and highlight other global organizations that fight for queer rights year round. For those who wish to be allies, attending Pride is a great first step, but supporting what Pride stands for doesn’t end on July 1st. Use this time as an opportunity to do some research, perhaps looking into the history of LGBTQIA+ rights, current struggles happening within our own country and globally. What is the Trevor Project? What about Basic Rights Oregon?

Dundee loves drag! Celebrating the announcement of upcoming Drag Perfromances at Day Wines in Dundee.

Cheers to the 3rd annual Wine Country Pride Festival!

But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean the party starts and ends with June either! Wine Country Pride has already set up one performance of “McMinnville Loves Drag,” with plans for future shows in the works. Keep an eye on EventBrite, as well as Wine Country Pride’s website and social media for news on future shows. This past one (not surprisingly) sold out all 150 tickets, with a few extras even given out for standing room only on the night. This is a mere part of the initiative Wine Country Oregon is pursuing to have a constant presence in McMinnville and engage with the community. It was a hit, while still providing plenty of space to learn and make productive changes in the future.

Another highly successful initiative has been Remy’s Queer Meet Ups. The idea here is going into and occupying queer spaces. You don’t have to be queer to attend, but the idea is overtaking spaces for professional networking, and/or socializing with the community. The first one was announced with only 24 hours notice and brought 30 people together. Fingers crossed the Meet Ups continue, taking place quarterly. For now though, the next one is planned on April 29th at 8pm at Bierly Brewing. As with everything else, the Core Group is prioritizing safety above all else, and there will continue to be a large focus on equity and access. (Age, income, physical ability… equity to access is a high priority for all of Wine Country Pride’s events.)

The PFLAG Family Car Parade and Picnic is June 26 this year. Come watch or hop in the parade yourself.

5. It’s going to be one heck on a party!

June 25th will be a day to remember, but as mentioned before keep your eyes peeled for happenings throughout the month and beyond. Sign up for the newsletter on the website and follow Wine Country Pride on Instagram. That will ensure that you are kept up to date on all things Pride. And feel free to engage!

Not to give too much away, but one PR firm even had to turn down Wine Country Pride because it grew TOO BIG for them! (Woot woot!)

Nonprofit and educations groups will be present, and many of the vendors will have accompanying activities at their booths from sidewalk chalk art to coloring crafts, making the event even more interactive.  (Don’t worry though there is still plenty to buy!)

We at The Dundee want to personally thank Remy Drabkin and Kristen Stoller for allowing us to attend one of the Wine Country Pride meetings, and we can’t wait to show up for any and all future Pride events!

There are a variety of beautiful flags representing a full spectrum of identities, each with its own meaning and history and each celebrating queer people and the rich diversity in all its strength and beauty that exists in humanity; Pride includes several drag, talent, and other performances that are sure to entertain and bring joy; Wine Country Pride has been supported by numerous local businesses, expect raffles and prices with Pride swag!

When booking at The Dundee, use link above or enter code WVPRIDE10 and we will donate 10% of the room rate to Wine Country Pride through June 30th, 2022.

*All photos used in post, unless otherwise credited, are from Wine Country Pride’s Instagram, check out and follow them!