Several cities are lucky enough to have multiple events celebrating Pride Month, and Portland is one such city with multiple events. While not an official part of Pride celebrations, Peacock in the Park is committed to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community in the Rose City.
Last weekend, we had a wonderful, multi-faceted, diverse, and--above all--safe Pride Weekend. This weekend, locals and guests to the region will be treated to the 31st Annual Peacock in the Park. Portland's favorite summertime spectacular is the occasion which bestows the Audria M. Edwards Scholarship Fund, created by the late Lady Elaine Peacock who died from AIDS-related complincations in 1993. The fund bestows secondary education scholarships to LGBTQ+ individuals or their children.
Despite being only days away from showtime, PQ got to speak with Maria Peters Lake, Rose Empress Maria XXXVI a Co-Founder and President of Peacock Productions, LLC; Kimberlee Van Patten, also a Co-Founder, who serves as Secretary and Treasurer; and Poison Waters who serves as an Co-Emcee and Sponsorship Coordinator of the event.
ProudQueer: This marks the 31st Anniversary of Peacock in the Park. Is there anything special the festival will do this year to mark 31 years of Peacock?
Maria Peters Lake: This is the first year we will have a featured entertainer within the show. Sabel Scities will be featured with her own “Mini-show” within the show. We are thrilled to have her. She is from the Pacific NW but now living in Texas. Even growing up here she has never performed at Peacock in the Park.
PQ: How long have you been involved with the event?
Poison Waters (PW): My first Peacock in the Park was in 1988 when I was the “Rosebud”, it was the neatest thing and I’ve been every year since, my second year was the first time I was given the opportunity to introduce a few of the acts, several emcees shared the duty back then.
PQ: How many recipients of the Audria M. Edwards scholarship have there been?
Kimberlee Van Patten (KVP): Since 1992, we have awarded 211 grants to 170 individuals totaling more than $328,000.00. Some recipients have received the award for more than one year consecutively. Students may apply as long as they are undergraduates.
PQ: Have there been any reunions with the recipients?
KVP: There are a number of recipients we are still in touch with but we have had no formal "reunion".
Maria Peters Lake (MPL): Not officially but we have a few that have come back to help us as volunteers or have actually become sponsors.
PQ: What can we expect at the festival which will be new, this year?
PW: This year we are giving a 15 minute set to Sabel Scities, another “Rosebud” who has since relocated to Austin, Texas and has made quite a name for herself. We are proud of her and her accomplishments and really looking forward to presenting our “local girl who’s done good!”
PQ: Of course, part of the draw to Peacock are the performers. Can you tell us who is headlining?
PW: The show in and of itself is the headliner and we pride ourselves on highlighting local talent but as mentioned before, Sabel Scities is definitely being featured, which we are excited about.
MPL: What is special/different about the park show is that it is a variety show so while there are drag queens in the show we work hard to showcase the community. The opening # will feature the community not just drag.
PQ: What message do you/Peacock want to send to LGBT+ youth who are approaching maturity?
PW: I believe we celebrate history, keeping this event going, we are honoring the past and presenting it to the youth and future leaders and entertainers. The message is that of inclusivity, Community, charity and resilience.
MPL: We need you! The youth of today are a powerful group and we need them to know they matter. They have no fear and will speak up. I believe they can change this world.
PQ: Any favorite moments you've had hosting?
PW: I’ve always loved the moments when children take the stage, be it planned or impromptu. I also clearly recall one of the years it rained, the crowd was so supportive and everyone stayed, the landscape of multi-colored umbrellas and endless smiles was so gorgeous!
MPL: Last year my extended family attended the show. Not all of my family shares my same view. But when your family loves you they forget all that. Having them there was very emotional for me.
PQ: Anything else you'd care to add?
PW: The support of our generous sponsors is so appreciated and of course the crowds that show up year after year to celebrate all things Peacock with us are adored! Keeping Lady Elaine Peacock, the person, in mind throughout the day is always a powerful motivator for us to provide a great day for the Community.
MPL: We are encouraging everyone take advantage of the free shuttles to the park. You can catch the shuttle at Scandals, Slaughters and Silverado starting at 9am. They will run continuously until 7pm. Did I mention it was free!
As usual, Peacock in the Park will take place at the Washngton Park Ampitheater, on Sunday, June 24th, from noon to 6PM. If you wish to donate to the Audria M. Edwards Scholarship Fund make sure to visit their fundraising page. So, if you're in town, make sure you attend Portland's favorite family friendly, all ages, summertime spectacular!