SPRINGFIELD,Mo. (KY3) - Organizers said more than 5,000 people celebrated Pride Fest at the square in downtown Springfield Saturday.
Krista Moncodo is the Executive director of the GLO Center. The center hosted the Greater Ozarks Pride Fest.
"We're Ozarkians and Springfieldians just like everyone else is," she said. "Its not easy being different in this area or this country all the time so we come together and celebrate being able to live as your authentic self."
Moncodo said for her, coming out wasn't easy. She said she lost everyone.
"Not just my siblings [and] my parents, but their friends, the people that babysat me and raised me and taught me all of these wonderful things of what it means to be a human," Moncodo said.
She said people here in the Ozarks have given her a new view of what community and love means.
"There's always been love and support in the Ozarks," Moncodo said.
Springfield mom Natalie McDonald attended the Pride Fest with two of her 12 children. She said the Springfield community has been very welcoming to her family and the rest of the LGBTQ+ community.
"It means a lot," said McDonald. "It's a chance for my kids to see just how many other people that are like them and other families that are like theirs."
Protesters made their way to Saturday's event. They were blocked from the rest of the festival by members of the group Faithful Allies.
"There are a group of local churches here in Springfield that felt like we wanted to create a safe place to members of the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate pride and not be exposed to the hate that some others in our community bring to the space," said Erica Harris, a member of Faithful Allies.
Moncodo said the ability to identify your allies is important and Pride Fest is the perfect way to do that.
"Political view points don't matter when you're here because all of that kind of falls away which is really beautiful," she said. "So all of these people don't agree on every little thing but they're here to celebrate each other and themselves."
The GLO center also has a new project called Ozarks Inclusion Project that allows businesses to mark themselves as inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community.
Click HERE to find out more about the resources the new project offers.