Utah Pride Festival will draw thousands to celebrate LGBTQ rights, 50 years since Stonewall riots

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Morgen Yoakum at the Utah Pride Festival in Salt Lake City Saturday June 1, 2019.

The Utah Pride Festival kicked off Saturday, with thousands of LGBTQ people and their allies celebrating 50 years since the start of America’s gay-rights movement.

The festival is expected to draw some 35,000 people to Washington Square, around City Hall in downtown Salt Lake City, on Saturday and Sunday. The event includes music, food, community groups, vendors and more.

The scheduled headliner on the festival stage Saturday is Aja, the nonbinary queer artist/performer featured on “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3.”

The festival’s theme — “Exist. Resist. Persist.” — marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York. On June 28, 1969, LGBTQ activists and patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back after a police raid. It’s considered the start of the gay-pride movement, and protests marking the first anniversary of Stonewall became the first pride marches.

The Utah Pride Festival traces its origins to an informal gathering in a Salt Lake City park in 1974. Last year’s festival was highlighted in the new documentary “State of Pride,” which debuted on YouTube on March 29.

The highlight of Sunday’s Pride schedule is the Pride Parade, along 200 South from West Temple to 400 East, starting at 10 a.m. The festival runs Sunday at Washington Square from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are available at utahpridecenter.org, or at the gate.