DUNEDIN — Local organizers hope the city's first gay pride festival this weekend will attract a big crowd — and big business.
Between today and Sunday, North Pinellas Pride will invite visitors to span the city's downtown and waterfront for events tailored to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
Festival coordinator Glen Bechara said organizers are planning for up to 5,000 visitors for the weekend.
"This is a great chance for the community to get together and have a good time," Bechara said. "We've got a strong presence in south Pinellas and a strong presence in Tampa. … We want to show that North Pinellas has pride, too."
The festival falls between two similar celebrations: the Reel Pride film festival last weekend in New Port Richey, and the St. Pete Pride festival that starts next week. St. Petersburg's festival is the largest of its kind in the state, drawing 80,000 visitors last year.
Supporters hope this weekend's festival will share in that success, citing the city's relaxed reputation for LGBT rights. Dunedin is the only city in Pinellas County, besides Gulfport, to have passed an ordinance protecting against discrimination of gender identity or expression, and city employees can share employment benefits with partners of the same sex.
The festival begins Friday with a 5 p.m. poolside reception and Drag Queen Bingo at the Beso del Sol Resort. At 8 p.m., organizers will screen Wigstock: The Movie, a documentary on a drag music festival in New York City's East Village, at the Dunedin Community Center.
On Saturday, visitors will meet at a Honeymoon Island pavilion, attend a pool party at the resort and play games of "gay bowling" at Dunedin Lanes.
On Sunday, the festival will showcase live music for a family-friendly gathering at Highlander Park. Each night of the festival ends with a dance show at Blur, a gay nightclub on Main Street.