By Antionette Bierman
Savannah is my favorite city in Georgia. The beautiful historic district and quaint Southern charm are definitely reminiscent of time gone by, so I was excited to hear that Savannah is also a diverse, progressive city and host to the annual Savannah Pride Festival. This year will mark the festival’s 10th anniversary, so I’m sure it’s going to be a great time. Best of all, Savannah Pride is not going to be your typical festival. Rather than a pride parade in the scorching Southern summer sun, this Pride festival has all-day events planned to keep you busy. Of course, the weekend will be filled with pre-parties and after-parties that are not to be missed.
As a new Georgian myself, I thought it would be best to go straight to the source for all the best info on the upcoming festival, to be held August 8 at Forsyth Park. Maria Pride, with the Savannah Pride Board of Directors, was eager to jump in and answer all my questions — giving me some great insights on why Savannah Pride will be the place to be this August.
I’ve never been to a Gay Pride event. Why should I choose Savannah as my first one?
Maria: Savannah Pride offers all-day entertainment, including music, comedy, dance, speeches, etc. Mega Family sponsors a children’s area, the Gay and Lesbian Film Society will have short films throughout the day, and there will be all types of vendors including jewelry, artwork and pottery. After the day’s activities, everyone can go to the largest gay club in Savannah, Club 1, for the traditional after party. Surely everyone can find something that suits their taste on this special day.
What are your favorite gay-friendly hotels in Savannah?
Maria: Savannah hotels and inns run the gamut from economical to luxurious. For visitors who want to stay downtown, within walking distance of the pride fest activities, some options include Four Points by Sheraton Historic Savannah, The Inn at Ellis Square, The Mansion on Forsyth Park and The Best Western Promenade Hotel.
What local celebrities, if any, can I expect to see at the festival?
Maria: Wow, we are incredibly excited about this year’s entertainment. Our headliner is Tiffany. For local talent we have Julie Goldman, Brendan Velasquez, Josh Duffy, Julie Schurr, Barbara Gehlmann (who will be joined on stage by one of our directors), Halcyon, TNT Entertainment (aka Mini Mafia), Juan Cezar, Guyton Maurice, Angie Radford and Blue Eyed Jane. Our annual cabaret includes local favorites like Miss Savannah Pride 2008 Blair William, Kristina Foxx, Destiny Myklz, Tiffany Dubois, Layla Foxxx, Motion and Ashley Sinclair. Some out-of-town guests include Charlie Brown, Chanel Stevens, Dorae Saunders, Ashley Kruiz and Alexandra Martin.
What is Savannah nightlife like for gay couples?
Maria: I guess this is where I should plug all of our great clubs in Savannah. First, if you come to Savannah you have to visit Club 1 Jefferson. Club 1 is known for its amazing cabaret and its three separate floors that cater to everyone in the crowd. Chuck’s Bar on River Street is a great place to listen to Karaoke. Blaine’s Back Door Bar is a wonderful place for those who enjoy leather and Bears. The Candi Shop and Island Breeze are neat local dance clubs/bars that show the urban twist of Savannah. I also recommend visiting Venus’ open court yard and Jens and Friends for the best chocolate martinis in town.
Outside of PRIDE, what are some other Savannah attractions that I shouldn’t miss during my visit?
Maria: Don’t miss one of our wonderful tours, you can learn about Haunted Savannah by getting a walking tour of downtown or even riding in a converted hearse. I also suggest the bar crawl tours that takes you through the best bars and taverns in Savannah. If you like romance, rent one of our carriages and ride around Savannah’s squares in style. Take some time to view all of the shops on River Street and make sure to stop by Wet Willie’s and ask them to call a cab. Other then food and drinks, take time to relax and enjoy one of our spas or the art showrooms and shops that are located throughout downtown.
Do you have any favorite suggestions for a nice dinner out on the town?
Maria: Savannah is known for is Southern cooking. While visiting our city, I recommend taking some time to enjoy some local favorites such as the Pink House ($$$), Paula Deen’s restaurant The Lady and Sons ($$) and Vinnie Van Go Go’s ($). If you are in the mood for a unique slice of pizza, Mellow Mushroom ($) on Victory is the place to visit. (This is also one of the best places in town for a meatless treat.) Also, you will find a unique diner or café on just about every corner and square in downtown Savannah.
With all this info, it’ll be easy to make the most out of a weekend trip to the Savannah Pride Festival. I can personally attest to Maria’s recommendation on the bar crawl tours (the haunted pub tours are a blast)! And if you are headed to The Lady & Sons, be sure to go early. The hostess starts taking names for lunch & dinner at 9:30 a.m. Take my word for it, it will fill up quickly!
Antoinette Bierman is a Market Manager for Orbitz Worldwide. She is “Southerner” at heart and a “West Coaster” by birth who loves to travel, especially on road trips where she can be joined by her very active and very high-maintenance 4-legged friends.
Maria Pride is a native of Ohio. Shortly after her move to Savannah, she joined the executive board of directors in an effort to make a difference in the Savannah LGBT community.