Greene County clerk voices government funding concerns for Springfield’s Pridefest

Published: Jun. 3, 2023 at 7:54 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller took to Facebook Friday to voice his concerns about the upcoming Ozarks Pridefest and some of the sponsors.

“I am especially concerned that our tax dollars are being given by a few governmental entities to sponsor this Pridefest event. It is important to understand that the entities that did are directed and run independent of any oversight or direction of the Greene County Commission. I do not understand why these governmental entities have chosen to sponsor these events with our taxpayer dollars when it is without question a very sensitive and controversial cultural issue,” Schoeller said on Facebook.

Schoeller told KY3 the goal of his post was to tell people if they have concerns about funding, they can respectfully share their concerns with the three Springfield government entities involved with Pridefest.

According to the Ozarks Pridefest website, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department is listed as a sponsor, but the City of Springfield and the Springfield-Greene County Library District are technically not sponsors.

The city of Springfield shared this statement with KY3 about its involvement with Pridefest. The City’s involvement boils down to working a booth and providing information from the health department and employment opportunities from the human resources department.

Pridefest is a private event and is not hosted by the City of Springfield. Park Central Square is the designated “free speech” area for our city. Not all activities there require a special event permit. The ones that do, follow our permitting process. This event is lawfully permitted.

The City in general is not a sponsor. However, both the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and the City’s Human Resources Department have obtained entry level sponsorships to set up booths for providing service information. In short: The City’s participation in Pridefest means obtaining a booth so we can accomplish our purpose mission, and obtaining that booth is considered by the event sponsor to be a form of sponsorship.

In general, the health department’s interest is solely to provide health-related information to the public as they typically do at a variety of community events, in particular for those who may experience barriers to care. In general, Human Resources’ interest is to utilize the event as an employment recruitment opportunity since the event is expected to attract a large audience. Like the health department, human resources does historically take advantage of events that are expected to attract a large turnout.

It is not the intent of these functions to support or oppose any specific activities these or any organizations may hold during such community events.

Background about events on the Square:

We do not regulate the content of events on the Square. The public square provides the highest level of speech under federal laws. Some events held there do not even require a special event permit because of that. This particular event did trigger the requirement of a special event permit because of three factors: they are selling merchandise, including food, the events include a parade that requires police and they will have music / amplified sound. As is the case with other events, they are required to cover the costs of law enforcement. The event permitting process also triggers insurance and hold harmless requirements. If they were simply doing a demonstration/protest with amplified sound and nothing else, the event would not trigger a permit requirement.


We have been permitting Pridefest since 2015, with the exception of two years’ hiatus during the pandemic and have had no problems with violations of law. Past events have included drag shows. No Pridefest events have triggered any public indecency violations. It is our experience that drag performers, much like those in theatrical plays, tailor their performances to the audiences expected. Organizers have in the past, and are promoting again this year, that this is a family-friendly event. We have no reason to expect any problems.

Cora Scott, City of Springfield

Dr. Kyler Sherman-Wilkins with the GLO Center, along with Cora Scott with the city of Springfield, says that combined, the three government entities shell out a few hundred dollars for Pridefest. Dr. Sherman-Wilkins says it takes between $25-30,000 to run Pridefest.

“We are so grateful to all of our sponsors. They have been really gracious with their resources, helping us to put on a family-friendly, safe Pride event, which is, again, what we’re really thankful for. And we’re also thankful for the three entities that the clerk mentioned, Greene County Health Department, the City of Springfield, and the library,” said Dr. Sherman-Wilkins. “I will say that every now counts, but the amount that they have contributed is minuscule. It’s a tiny fraction of our overall sponsorship. And so I would just want to make sure that that context is very clear. We’re not talking about half. But we’re not even talking about 10 or 5%. It’s a very tiny amount.”

Schoeller says he has no problem with the event, just the fact that taxpayer dollars could be involved.

“It’s just when you begin to use taxpayer dollars for this. I think that’s where the concern has been expressed. And I think that’s an appropriate concern and a good conversation to have,” said Schoeller.

Schoeller adds events like the Christmas parade or others that occur downtown should also not be sponsored by tax dollars.

“Are those events articulated in a certain faith that they’re asking people to believe in, support, or promote? I think that’s an important conversation to have. Because I certainly believe, as a Christian, that I do not have the right to impose my beliefs upon anyone, and I don’t want government-funded tax dollars being used to be able to do that. That is something that is for people of faith to be able to do that is not up to the government,” said Schoeller.

Earlier this year, Schoeller announced he is running for Missouri secretary of state.

To report a correction or typo, please email