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After The Year That Was 2020, Pure Heat Community Festival Returns To Piedmont Park


For Black LGBTQ+ Atlantans, Sundays in Piedmont Park have long been an unofficial event, until nine years ago when organizers of the first Pure Heat Community Festival turned the unofficial park gatherings into a massive cultural event. This year, the free festival is returning to Piedmont Park on Sunday, September 5, after organizers postponed it in 2020 out of safety concerns for attendees at the height of the global pandemic. A highlight among the extensive list of events offered over Labor Day Weekend during Atlanta Black Pride, the festival is a significant visual representation of the collective power and visibility of Black LGBTQ+ people, with organizers seizing the opportunity to honor and showcase the business acumen and artistic prowess of Black openly LGBTQ+ leaders and entertainers in the community.


This year’s honorees include Lemuel Plummer (CEO, Zeus Network), Malik Brown (Director of LGBTQ Affairs, City of Atlanta), and Raquell Lord (Legendary Entertainer). Actor Ryan Jamaal Swain (POSE) will also make an appearance. Newly out rapper Da Brat is scheduled to deliver a headlining performance during her first appearance at the festival, and will also be honored along with her partner Jesseca “Judy” Dupart.


The Reckoning spoke with Melissa Scott, CEO of Traxx Girls, and also a co-founder along with Bishop O.C. Allen III of Pure Heat Community Festival about her plan to deliver a spectacular and safe event despite the COVID-related challenges of producing a festival of this magnitude.


“We were obviously ecstatic to be able to bring the festival back this year,” says Scott. “We were kind of on pins and needles because the mayor's office had a moratorium against accepting large event applications.”


An early cap on festival attendees at 1,900 by Bottoms’ office far exceeded the number of attendees at previous Pure Heat Community Festivals. Scott says she was prepared to operate within the new capacity limit, but luckily, Bottoms’ office increased the capacity, which allowed organizers to produce the type of event attendees expect. But there was another obstacle.


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