top of page


Salisbury Pride was first organized by a group of friends who wanted a way to celebrate equality and diversity in Salisbury, NC. The first festival was held in 2011 and Salisbury Pride, Inc. was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2012.

Salisbury Pride is managed by a board of directors but would not operate without the tireless work of countless volunteers and supporters.

2014 HRC trailblazer award.jpg

Salisbury Pride was honored in 2014 to be presented with the Trailblazer Award from the Human Rights Campaign for our work in promoting visibility and increasing public support for and education about the LGBTQ+ community in Rowan County. (Media coverage by the Washington Post and Qnotes)


Each year, the board of Salisbury Pride selects the recipients of two awards, which are presented on the Main Stage during the annual festival.


The Salisbury Pride Volunteer of the Year Award is named for Rachel Merkwa, a tireless and dedicated volunteer who we lost in 2022. The recipients of this award embody the same commitment to the success of Salisbury Pride that Rachel showed and have served the organization in a volunteer role with dedication towards "Equality for All."


The Salisbury Pride Ally of the Year Award is named for its first recipient, Ralph Ketner. Widely known as the co-founder and former CEO of Food Lion, the late Mr. Ketner was also a strong supporter of equality and diversity in Rowan County, and we are proud to honor his legacy with this award each year. This award is given to a person or group for outstanding community leadership and for changing hearts and minds in the community. 


The Rainbow Award is given at the discretion of the Salisbury Pride Board of Directors in recognition of service to Salisbury Pride and the Salisbury and Rowan County communities. 

Recent winners of these awards are:

Rachel Merkwa Volunteer of the Year Award

2024   Colleen Fox & Zack Hubbard

2023   Dee & Jennifer McGann

2022   Jock Beeker

2022   Sandra Kesler-Kidd & Ellen Kesler

2019   Maddi McDaniel

2018   Tricia Douglas

2017   Steve and Lina Drinkard

2016   Athena Moore


Prior years:

Lynn Jacek

Rachel Carden & Trisha Merkwa

Julia Thomason

Amy Smith

Bob Lambrecht &  Jon Planovsky

Andy Linker

Ralph Ketner Ally Award

2024   Salisbury City Council

2023   Evelyn Medina

2022   Heather & Scott Teeter

2022   Carol Williams-Swoope

2022   Capt. Melonie Thompson

2019   'Tis the Season Spectacular Committee

2018   Maggie Blackwell

2017   Margaret Almeida

2016   Bill Stanback


Prior years:

Sue Day Whitley

Ashley Jo Farmer

Mike Clawson

The Cataldo Family

Ralph Ketner

Rainbow Award

2024   Shawn Nottingham

2023   Jay Horne & Rob Kent

2022   Tammy Rast

bottom of page