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Gay Pride Festival in O.C. on Hold, Planners Say


Organizers have mothballed Orange County's annual gay-pride festival, citing increased costs and a lack of public interest that made the summertime event too expensive to put on.

Born in the late 1980s, Orange County Cultural Pride's annual two-day gathering was the showcase event for local gay men, lesbians and supporters. The festival, which included food and music, peaked at the 10th anniversary gathering at UC Irvine's Aldrich Park two years ago, attracting about 10,000 people.

Last year, though, fewer than 5,000 people showed up and organizers lost $12,000--cutting into money to put on this year's festival, usually held in August. The festival costs about $100,000 to stage.

Robb Helms, chief financial officer for the festival, said the group was surveying the gay and lesbian community to try to determine why interest in the event has waned, and what steps might be taken to revive it.

One issue could be competition: The festival follows similar large events in Long Beach in May and Los Angeles in June.

"We come along a few weeks later in mid-August and everybody says, 'We've just attended two festivals that are really big, so why should we spend the money and come to Orange County when it's so much smaller?' " Helms said.

Helms said the organization would meet this summer to review the survey results and determine whether to revive the festival.

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