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Pridefest, Shakespeare’s organizers prepare safety precautions for thousands in Downtown Columbia


Mid-Missouri Pridefest Street Fair

The Mid-Missouri Pridfest Street Fair started Saturday afternoon and will run until Sunday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event will cause multiple road closures and potential traffic in downtown Columbia throughout the weekend.

Throughout the weekend, a portion of Park Ave. will be closed from around Putnam's Studio 1012 down to St. James St.

Orr St. and St. James St. will also be closed all the way down to East Ash St. These closures were approved at a council meeting held on August 21st and will be in effect on Sunday as well.

These road closures will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday and will be in effect until 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

On Sunday, Mid-Missouri Pridefest will be having a short parade starting at noon. The parade will begin at the Armory, head down East Ash St., then south onto North Ninth St. to East Broadway. It will then turn onto East Broadway towards North Fourth St.

To ensure the safety of attendees, the event has over a dozen volunteers and security guards on standby. Volunteers are responsible for crowd control, assist attendees, and report any concerns or incidents to organizers or security personnel.

"We have security guards at each of our entrances. We are fortunate here in town that in the 23 plus years of our event, we've never had a single incident or a single issue. We feel very protected by our local community and we feel very lucky to have that protection," said Mid-Missouri Pridefest President Janet Davis.

Columbia Public Works is asking drivers to be extra cautious around those areas this weekend and to yield to pedestrians.

The Street Fair is free to attend and family-friendly. Over 150 vendors will be attending. There will also be live entertainment, drag shows, food trucks, and a health pavilion.

Estimated attendance for the event is expected to be around six to eight thousand.

Shakespeare's 50th Big Bash

Shakespeare's pizza is celebrating its 50th anniversary Saturday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., which also is causing road closures in downtown Columbia.

From 6 a.m. Saturday until 2:30 a.m. Sunday road closures will be in effect for the event.

The South Ninth St. and Elm St. intersection will be closed, according to the Columbia Public Works Twitter.

"We are hoping to get a few thousand. We really don't know how many we're going to get because it's a one off event that we never done before. But with any luck, we'll have a nice crowd," said Co-Owner Kurt Mirtsching.

Shakespeare curated a 43-page emergency and evaluation plan incase trouble happened at Saturdays birthday bash. The primary purpose of the handbook is to limit the risk of death or personal injury to guest and employees and to minimize physical or structural damage to venue, according to Shakespeare's Emergency and Evacuation Plan.

"We've taken a strong attitude towards safety. We've got a good plan in case the weather goes bad. We've got we're going to have an ambulance on site, and people know how this stuff works," said Mirtsching.

Again, drivers are asked to use caution when driving around and near the location and also to watch for pedestrians walking around the area.

Shakespeare's is hosting a free concert and are offering free pizza to those who attend.

Since Shakespeare's founding in 1973, they have rolled 1.9 million pounds of pizza dough and served over 150 million slices of pepperoni pizzas.

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