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Pagan Pride Fest provides for expression, understanding

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It’s a day of self expression and an opportunity to lead others beyond their misconceptions.

Music, as always, has been a reliable barrier-breaking vehicle.

Hundreds arrived at Appleton’s Pierce Park on Saturday for the 2019 Fox Valley Pagan Pride Music Fest. The event brought together Pagans of a variety of practices and traditions for music and workshops. Vendors displayed art and jewelry among their wares, though the ice cream truck maintained the longest line on a scorching, humid day.

Those who practice Earth-centered religions found a place of camaraderie; a space to be themselves without having to offer explanations or defend their beliefs. But all were welcome to listen, explore and enjoy.

“We want non Pagans to attend and experience who we are,” said Tracie Wood, an event coordinator.

For some, the term Pagan immediately turns thoughts to “anti-Christian.”

There’s no “anti,” Wood said. 

The organization hopes education and exposure would foster mutual respect, tolerance and peace.

Vendor Rob Aikins of Little Chute said it’s clear they’ve made inroads. It was shown in the numbers — more than 1,400 people expressed interest in coming on Facebook.

“We’re progressing,” he said. “People are starting to care more about the things that matter than the things that divide us.”

Saturday marked the third year of the Fox Valley’s Pagan Pride event as a music festival.

The event brought performances from Age of Fable, Kari Tauring, The Strip Club and Virginia Ackley. Sounds ranged from folk and Celtic to what The Strip Club describes as multiverse rock.

Vendor Frank Grabowski said the festival speaks to a growing spirit of inclusivity in the Fox Cities. He recalled some nerves in that first year of Pagan Pride in terms of putting themselves out there at a public park.

It’s been a growing celebration of friends and families, sharing and learning.

“It’s good to see people here and proud,” he said.

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