Cedar Valley Pride Fest is this weekend in Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Valley Pride Fest is this weekend in Waterloo

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Decorative lights and flags line Fourth Street in downtown Waterloo as it prepares for a crowd of thousands.

The second annual Cedar Valley Pride Fest is Saturday in the 300 block of West Fourth Street.

The goal for organizers is to have close to 5,000 attendees this year.

Mike Tyer with Cedar Valley Pride Fest said the celebration is a chance to share more about the LGBT community and show the diversity throughout the Valley.

"Part of the reason for the event is to create an opportunity for the greater community and LGBT community to co-mingle and see what issues face both, as well as celebrate diversity and inclusion for both parties," Tyer said.

Last year's fest drew about 2,500 people from eastern Iowa and across the country. Eighteen states, including Iowa, were represented, and over 50 vendors are taking part in this year's go-round.

The celebration also has an economic impact, as visitors will browse shops and stop in local restaurants. Local hot spot Cottonwood Canyon is excited to see new faces come through its doors this weekend.

"Of course, an increase in business due to everybody downtown, but also the possibility of bringing people in who've never even heard of Cottonwood Canyon and give them a chance to try the coffee and food," said employee Johnny Verch.

Because the fest attracts out-of-towners, the Ramada Hotel already has 50 rooms booked for the entire weekend.

Ramada Director of Sales Nick Hedrick said a lot of people plan to stay in Waterloo Friday through Sunday, turning the celebration into a weekend getaway.

The Pride Fest said sexual orientation isn't a factor in who can come; everyone is welcome to join the fun. It's not about politics or pushing any agendas, but rather education and awareness.

"It's great for people that are friends and allies, people that associate themselves with LGBT or people that just want to come and see what it's all about," Tyer said.

Admission is $7 at the gates, and children 12 and younger are admitted for free.

For a full list of entertainment, vendors and exhibitors, visit www.cedarvalleypride.com.

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