'We Embrace Everyone': Diverse Fest Welcomes All In Sarasota

SARASOTA, FL — Wanting to connect marginalized groups throughout the community, the Harvest Sarasota is hosting its first annual Diverse Fest on Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

About 35 vendors representing various organizations, cultures and community groups. The day will also feature live music and other performers throughout the day.

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Initially Harvest’s leaders conceptualized an LGBTQ Pride event for June, Dan Minor, pastor and president of the nonprofit, told Patch.

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“Then it just seemed like the calendar was so full between here and St. Pete,” he said. “The weekend we initially picked was St. Pete Pride and it was like, ‘No, that’s dumb because we want to support that.’”

So, the church moved the event to July.

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“We figured, ‘Let’s just celebrate diversity all together,’” Minor said. “Any marginalized groups – anti-Islam, BIPOC, Asian Americans.”

With a flurry of “hateful” legislation passing in Florida over the past year or so — targeting the LGBTQ, Black and other communities — the event is a response to these new laws.

“We feel like in the state of Florida that this has unfortunately become a political issue and we feel it’s just a human rights issue,” he said. “It’s important to celebrate diversity in our state.”

Minor has met many people who feel alone in the world and he hopes Diverse Fest will connect them with others in similar situations, as well as the resources they need.

“The positive message we have is that diversity is beautiful and people don’t have to feel alone and isolated because of what they read in the news,” he said.

He’s happy that Harvest can help showcase how diverse Sarasota can be.

“There will be lots and lots of nonprofits that are open, affirming and inclusive,” Minor said. “The idea is not just to help those guys out, but for the people who are attending, it’s like, ‘See, you’re actually surrounded by a ton of organizations, nonprofits and vendors that actually love you.”

He’s been struck by how conservative the community has turned in recent years.

“People think this town is just 100 percent right wind, red-hat wearing, QANON conspiracy theorists,” Minor said. “But this isn’t anti anything. This event isn’t anti our governor and it isn’t anti the Republican party or conservatives. It’s just simply that, like when you go to the beach and see the sunset, you’re reminded of, ‘Why don’t I come out there more often?’ It’s easy to forget. And this is a living display of just how diverse the Sarasota community truly is … We embrace everyone.”

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