HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — When Shenandoah Valley Pride Alliance President Rob Johnson invited a church minister to last year's Shenandoah Valley Pride Festival, he was met with skepticism.
"She was like, 'I don't know. I don't really know about that. I really don't approve of it,'" Johnson said.
She decided to go and after told him she had a change of heart.
According to Johnson, the minister said she was "glad I came because I saw more love and community in that group of people than I've ever seen in my life, and it really touched me. She goes, I'll be back next year."
This minister and others will be able to attend the event again this year.The festival will be held this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Court Square.
Johnson stresses that the event is geared towards everyone, not just the LGBT community.
"It's a family friendly event," Johnson said. "We don't invite just LGBT folk, we invite everybody. Just like last year, there were straight couples, there were gay couples, with their babies in the carriages and everything."
This year's festival is expected to feature appearances by openly gay Virginia State Delegate Mark Levine of Alexandria and Ginger Minj, a two-time contestant from the show Rupaul's Drag Race.
They are also selling t-shirts that say, "I am Human."
Johnson said last year there were about 3,000 people in attendance. This year he expects that total to rise anywhere from 500 to 1,000 more people. He's also pleased with the impact his organization and the yearly event have had on the Valley community.
"The visibility let's the people of the community know we're here," Johnson said. "We're just like everybody else. We're having a festival to celebrate."
For more information on the event, visit its website here.