SALISBURY, N.C. — As many as 4,000 or more people gathered for entertainment, community outreach and summer festival fun at Salisbury Pride on Saturday, June 21.

The fourth annual event, which organizers say keeps growing larger each year, is a feat for Salisbury — a central Piedmont town with about 34,000 residents. Locals have grown tremendously over the years, organizing a local PFLAG chapter and other initiatives. The town government now even prohibits anti-LGBT discrimination against city workers.

Organizers said more than 70 vendors attended the event, including several local faith congregations and area non-profit groups like Salisbury’s PFLAG chapter and the Rowan County Democrats, as well as regional groups like Equality North Carolina and the Campaign for Southern Equality. Corporate sponsors and vendors included PepsiCo Food Lion, Barefoot Wines, Novant Health and H&R Block. The festival’s presenting sponsor was Ralph Ketner, co-founder of Food Lion and father of former out South Carolina congressional candidate Linda Ketner.

Entertainment included a wide diversity of talents, including folk singers, a Country music cover artist and several drag performances. The event was emceed by Roxy C. Moorecox and Jamie Monroe. Community speakers include the Rev. Robin Tanner, pastor of Charlotte’s Piedmont Unitarian-Universalist Church and the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte’s small men’s ensemble, 7th Son, also performed.

The event attracted far fewer protesters and demonstrators in the past. This year, only a handful of protesters were present.

In February, Salisbury Pride was awarded at the Human Rights Campaign North Carolina Gala for their work in creating welcome and inclusion in the town.

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.