Amanda Nachman | Gay San Diego
She Fest addresses a missing piece to the pride puzzle: women.
Imagine a laid-back picnic with acoustic jams, free massages and like-minded women looking to connect. Where women can hang out on picnic blankets with coolers filled with homemade guacamole and fresh lemonade.
Meant for friends and families from the community — four-legged friends too — She Fest debuts this Pride season.
The free event will feature live music, workshops and games from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, at the North Park Community Park, located at 4044 Idaho St., between Polk and Howard avenues.
T-shirts will be sold for $15, with all proceeds benefitting the event. A raffle will give away two VIP all-access passes to the San Diego Pride Music Festival. Attendees are encouraged to bring folding chairs and their own food.
When Kelcie Kopf, 34, pitched her idea for She Fest to the San Diego Pride committee six months ago, the committee jumped on board because it was exactly what Pride needed: a family-friendly, women-centric event.
Eight years ago, Kopf moved to San Diego from Lubbock, Texas without any personal connections. Meeting friends wasn’t as easy as she had hoped, and she wasn’t out as a lesbian yet either.
After testing out the bar scene, Kopf turned to “Meetup,” an online community, and founded the San Diego Lesbian group, which grew quickly and boasts more than 2,000 members today.
Her knack for organizing events caught on and soon Inferno Dances asked Knopf to help manage their dances that targeted a more “seasoned” lesbian audience, ages 35 and up. She also volunteered with the Dyke March planning committee and helped plan Women’s Fest at The Center.
Knopf quickly realized that each committee she worked with was unaware of the others. Inspired to bring women together to share what they’re doing, Kopf began organizing She Fest.
“There wasn’t a place to experience that community,” she said. “I couldn’t find it, so I tried to create it.”
While at one time, Pride offered a space at the festival dedicated to women, those events have been dropped in more recent years. Overall, Kopf noticed a lack of women-focused activities.
“Today there’s a perceived lack of representation of women,” she said. “They said they were looking for something like this.”
She Fest will be one of Pride’s signature events this year.
The Pride committee fully embraced She Fest, loaning Kopf two staff members — Gloria Cruz, Pride’s entertainment director and Helen Leung, operations manager — and as well as helping with administrative, legal tasks and promotions.
Kopf and her 15-strong She Fest committee of volunteers threw fundraisers at Broke Girls Coffee Bar, Gossip Grill, Brass Rail and even secured three sponsors —The San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, LGBTQ Spiritual Summit and Purple Light Vacations — raising over half of the $5,000 goal required to pay for permits, tables and sound equipment.
More than 25 organizations will host activities such as yoga and Zumba classes, a workout boot camp, flag football and a women’s drum circle. Workshops such as Relationships, Self-branding, Bike Safety/Mechanics and Reducing Stress/Managing Chronic Pain will also be offered. And if the workshops don’t reduce the stress, mobile spa service Spoiled on the Spot will offer free chair massages.
Musical performances will include Monica Fontanoza, Mira Parfitt, Lillian Lefranc, Christine Sako, Bakkuda, Studdin Daily, Spare Parts for Broken Hearts, The Lovebirds and Sister Speak.
She Fest will also have games like corn hole and ladders, but attendees can bring more activities to contribute to the festivities.
“Plan for it like a day out at the park with the family,” Kopf said. So far, over 500 people have RSVP’d on Facebook.
After the fun filled day in the sun, a She Fest after party will take place at U-31, located at 3112 University Ave., in North Park, from 6 – 10 p.m. with performances by Lorie Moore, MC Flow, Karina Frost and more. Admission is free with a $5 suggested donation.
“My goal with this festival is that we can go into Pride weekend feeling stronger and more united as a community of women and begin to shape the face of our LGBTQ community,” Kopf said.
You can get an original She Fest shirt at the event or order one online squareup.com/market/she-fest-2014. For more info on She Fest, visit sandiegopride.org website under “events” and RSVP on Facebook under groups/shefestsandiego.