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Sunday, February 17th (Presidents’ Day Weekend) from 11am to 10pm is the 4th annual GAY8 Festival, which will be held in historic Little Havana, Miami (between SW14th Ave and SW17th Ave).  

The free festival, meant to connect many of South Florida’s diverse communities, is a celebration full of art, food, music, dance parties and culture.  Last year Gay8 Festival’s over 60,000 attendees helped make it the largest Hispanic/Latino LGBTQ hosted festival in the nation.

This year the festival’s mainstage (on SW17th Avenue) will feature the music of Company B, Lucy Grau and Envee.  There will also be a variety of fashion shows and drag performances, as well as the best Miami Sandwich competition, curated and judged by Sef Gonzalez, the Burger Beast.

GAY8 Festival 2019 will also feature a doggie obstacle course, a variety of curated vendor booths, four foreign LGBTQ films presented for free at the Tower Theater, a woman’s tertulia (or “salon”), Girls’ Central (a women’s tea dance) and the Macho Dance Party.

An air conditioned VIP Lounge will anchor the festival and be featured at the second floor of the Sala Building at 1607 SW 8th Street.  Wonderful Latin fare, a full Bacardi Bar, mixing with stage talent, community leaders and other sponsors and VIPs, and special tours like an historic tour with the famed Dr. Paul George will provide for an extraordinary experience.

It was a pleasure to sit down with co-owner/producer Damian Pardo to talk about Gay8.

How has the festival changed from your original plans of Gay8?

It has changed in that with community and corporate support we have been able to build out more programming and offerings.

What is new this year at the festival?

We have brought back all the favorites from last year like the Fashion shows (pet and human lol), free films at the Tower theatre all afternoon, the curated food vendors and the doggie obstacle course.  We added several more varied vendors everything from artisan soap makers, massages, and new food vendors. On the Macho Stage we have internationally acclaimed ROSABEL playing for the community this year at no charge to attendees. Our VIP area has a much broader offering: a tasty selection of Latin fare, wine tastings, and a special historic walking tour with Dr. Paul George that begins at 3pm. We have new DJs on the main stage and the Girl Central stage. We have upgraded the closing street dance and float for a much better experience which starts at about 8pm.  

This year we also built an event on Monday directed by Lynare Robbins called the 4WARD Americas symposium at the University of Miami where we bring activists from Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada to propose best practices for LGBTI activists and educators on a variety of issues. 

What does the future hold for Gay8?

As this festival grows it begins to broaden the idea of connection – locally, regionally, and internationally.  We hope to continue rounding out this vision and grow our programming organically into the areas that help break down barriers and engage our South Florida community. 

For more information on the festival and events surrounding the festival please go to their website: gay8festival.com.

Tickets are $100, and can be purchased at: eventbrite.com/e/gay8-festival-vip-ticket-tickets-52498631821.