The first ever Pettis County Pride Picnic was this past Saturday, and it was absolutely beautiful.

To be honest, I didn't know what to expect, really.  With the endless rain we seem to be having lately, I was a little worried it would even be able to happen.  But it was so perfect - it rained like crazy Friday, then we got a perfect Saturday, before it started raining again on Sunday.  It's like the weather said, "Nah, don't worry- I gotchu."

There were all kinds of people there, people I knew and people I didn't.  It didn't seem to matter whether or not we were strangers, though.  Everyone had a smile and a kind word to say.  In a way, it felt like those family reunions you have with the extended family that you only see maybe every five years.  There's a connection there, and you know it, but it might take a second to wake it up.  But you'll remember old Cousin Steve from Idaho and his dad jokes soon enough, and he makes a killer potato salad.

There was a little bit of everything there - kids, dogs, snacks, drinks, art, games, selfie stations, registration to vote, education about LGBTQIA+ history, stickers (you know I love me a sticker), flags, prizes, mental health guidance, crafts, singing, and a little place to just sit and be quiet.

But really, the best part was the people.  You really felt an empathy from everybody.  Everyone there wanted to make everyone else there smile. And they did. A lot.  It was like a little happy place next to a baseball game and a wedding in the middle of a world full of screeching, irrational anger and hatred.  Here was a place where nobody would have a care in the world. I took photos.

I really hope this continues, and they have another variation of it next year. Or maybe something bigger! I don't know, either way, I hope it doesn't stop here. We need more excuses to show kindness and love to each other. So many times we're just going through life, doing our jobs, keeping our heads down.. and we don't really take a minute to just look in someone else's eyes. We're so concerned about our problems and issues and our family (and that's valid, obviously) that we forget there's humanity all around us. It can be so easy to dismiss someone else on the internet or just have a knee jerk reaction to a label we put on someone else. There's a real person there behind that word, a person who loves, who hurts, who laughs, all of it. I hope events like these keep popping up so that we have to remind ourselves that we're not that different after all.

I also hope that people who have that knee jerk reaction will allow themselves to look at these pictures, to hear these voices, and maybe soften their hearts a little. I'm sure it sounds super corny. I'm sure you're rolling your eyes right now. But hey, maybe I am just a softie and I want everyone to be happy. And you know what, I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Pridefully yours,

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