The Out! Raleigh festival's 2017 theme is #LiveOut #LoveOut. Photo: Out! Raleigh via Facebook

RALEIGH, N.C. — City Plaza welcomes back the Out! Raleigh festival from 11-6 on May 6, an annual event benefiting the LGBT Center of Raleigh. The festival is traditionally family friendly, with a KidsZone, live entertainers, local artists and vendors, and of course, a plethora of food options to make any foodie’s mouth water.

Out! Raleigh began in 2011 and has been steadily growing ever since. The 2016 festival drew over 51,000 people from across the state, all there to celebrate the LGBTQ community and its allies. Entertainers from last year’s festival included a broad variety of musicians, from 90’s covers to jazz experimental. The event had nearly 20 sponsors, including big names like Wells Fargo, PNC Bank and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

The 2017 Out! Raleigh festival promises to be even more successful. Sampson the comedian has performed in the White House, on Broadway, in California and worldwide. The Raleigh Little Theater will also offer a performance of “Avenue Q,” the hit comedy-musical that the theater will run for several weeks in June. Other performers include musicians from alternative country to pop to 80’s mash-ups and a can’t-miss performance by the Triangle Pride Band.

The number of sponsors for this year’s festival has risen by over 50 percent from 2016, and includes repeated corporate names and some big, new ones: Bank of America and Food Lion among them. Over 120 vendors have already committed to distribute their wares at the event, including eight different styles of food truck and a dozen fun activities in the family-friendly KidsZone.

The LGBT Center of Raleigh, the festival’s primary sponsor and organizer, uses the funds raised at the event to expand its community programs. There are more than 20 programs at the Center that aim to benefit and support the local LGBTQ community and its allies. The Center holds support and socialization groups for bisexual people, for HIV+ people and their allies, transgender people, youth and LGBTQ elders. It also promotes events for LGBTQ artists, library-sponsored groups and a leadership camp.

Another upcoming event for the organization is the Dine Out fundraiser on May 16. To keep up to date on the LGBT Center of Raleigh’s activities and interests, like its Facebook page, follow @LGBTCenterRal on Twitter or even download the Center’s mobile app.