Atlanta Pride announces 2011 dates

“We’re happy that the event will correspond with an important date with queer significance,” Sheffield said. “Traffic and crowds are getting close to where they were in 2007. Last year was very successful.”

Last year, Pride marked its 40th year.

After being celebrated the last weekend in June in Piedmont Park for most of its history, Atlanta Pride was forced to move in 2008 when city officials booted large festivals from the parched park.

Held over July Fourth weekend at the Civic Center, Pride attendance and finances suffered. The festival moved back to Piedmont Park for 2009, but over Halloween, to get around city policies that limited festivals in the summer season due to drought concerns.

“Do I recognize that some people aren’t happy with the festival being in October? Absolutely. I understand. I have to think about the safety of the volunteers, the stability and well-being of the organization,” Sheffield said.

Sheffield said that the challenge of holding the festival in June would require a multi-year plan, some three to five years of additional fundraising to move Atlanta Pride back to its traditional summer home.

“The reality is this event can’t happen without half a million dollars. That’s a conservative estimate,” he said.

Top photo: The 2011 Atlanta Pride festival will be held during the second weekend in October and will correspond with National Coming Out Day. (Brent Corcoran/RNZ Photography)