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 Connecticut's Hills Are Alive With Pride, Ariana DeBose, Alex Newell, and More 

 Connecticut's Hills Are Alive With Pride, Ariana DeBose, Alex Newell, and More 

Ariana DeBose
Ariana DeBose performs at Shag Festival's Pride in the Hills

The Spring Hills Art Gathering and Pride in the Hills collaborate for an idyllic queer event in the Nutmeg State. 

In idyllic Washington, Conn., Pride is alive and ongoing with SHAG Festival and Pride in the Hills. Kicking off the first weekend of the SHAG festival on Saturday was the soaring out star Ariana DeBose (the original Broadway cast of Hamilton, Netflix's The Prom, and Steven Spielberg's upcoming West Side Story).

Set at the Spring Hill Vineyard, replete with a barn, a silo, and an amphitheater, the Spring Hills Arts Gathering (SHAG) evolved from a wine tasting venue to an arts festival. And now it's home to a festival that includes a glorious Pride event where national and local artists perform.

"I am so grateful to my TodayTix family for getting me back in front of a live audience. This pandemic has reinvigorated my love and passion for live performance. We have been in desperate need for connection, and that is what my current show is about," DeBose said in a statement to The Advocate about playing the event last weekend. "The simplicity and power of connection and sharing of joy through live music. Being able to safely gather and connect with my audiences of late has been food for my soul."

Ariana DeBose

Alex Newell (Glee, Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist), Mila Jam, Shequida Hall, and queer icon Sophie B. Hawkins also played the festival's opening weekend. Pride in the Hills also hosted a Drag Queen Story Hour.

Proceeds and donations from the event support the Pride in the Hills Fund at Connecticut Community Foundation, a charitable organization, according to the Pride in the Hills website. Through grants to nonprofits, the organization "aims to celebrate and improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) people in Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills."

Alex Newell and Pilobolus

Upcoming performances for the SHAG festival run this Friday through Sunday. Among the performers are recording artist KT Tunstall and favorite acts in the region, including the troupe Pilobolus and the Connecticut Ballet. The weekend also includes the SHAG market, featuring artisans from the area.

Check out the full schedule here.

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