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Peaches, Betty Who lead headliners for this year’s PrideFest

We’re just about a month away from the official start of festival season, and that season’s very first event just shared its headliners for 2023.

PrideFest will kick off the annual run of ethnic and cultural lakefront festivals held at Henry Maier Festival Park when it returns June 1-3 for its 35th edition (although it didn’t move to Maier until 1996). According to a release, the festival notched record-breaking attendance in 2022, its first year with a new approach to booking entertainment. Essentially, organizers put a bigger emphasis on artists with a stronger connection with and commitment to the LGBTQ+ community — a philosophy that carries over to 2023.

Leading the list of headliners are electro-dance-synth-punk artist Peaches and dance-pop purveyor Betty Who. They’re joined by Murray (the Magician) Sawchuck, Milwaukee’s own DJ Shawna, electro-pop musician Bright Light Bright Light, rapper/podcaster Big Dipper and DJ J. Worra.

“An aspect of our festival that I genuinely love (and appreciate) is how our entertainment continues to evolve and change year after year,” Milwaukee Pride president and CEO Wes Shaver said in the release. “Booking entertainment continues to come with all new sets of challenges, but that didn’t stop us from putting together a fun, energetic and dynamic lineup.”

The DJs in that list are two-thirds of the first all-female headlining roster at PrideFest’s Dance Pavilion, with DJ Dripsweat filling the other slot. The stage has a new director for 2023, Jorna Taylor, who has put together quite a variety of acts that include drag performances, dance groups and acrobatics, plus some special effects for good measure. Local drag personality Melee the Queen will once again host the Dance Pavilion, getting help from RuPaul’s Drag Race icon Stacy Layne Matthews and local performers Dora Diamond, Montell Infiniti Ross and Malayia Marvel.

PrideFest also announced a series of promotions for this year’s event. Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday Happy Hour will feature MolsonCoors offerings at 1996’s prices (in honor of the first PrideFest at the grounds), and a Saturday Ice Cream Social will be presented by Shake Shack. In addition, there’s a Thursday night food drive benefiting VIVENT Health’s food pantry presented by Kroger Delivery. The grocery group has already promised to donate $1,000 worth of goods on top of what PrideFest guests bring that evening.

For daily updates and announcements, you can follow PrideFest on social media, while the festival’s website will have updated information on schedules, promotions, admission and more.