The Gay Softball World Series returns to Columbus with a week's worth of not-to-be-missed activities.
It's been a whirlwind of a summer for Columbus' LGBT community. Fresh off the heels of a Pride Festival featuring grand marshal Jim Obergefell, Columbus joined the rest of the country in celebrating the landmark Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling. This month, the celebration continues when the city welcomes back the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance Gay Softball World Series, which was last held in Columbus in 2010. Along with the tournament comes a slew of events you won't want to miss, whether you're a softball fanatic or an occasional spectator. gsws2015.org
Aug. 13: The Pre-Game
Familiarize yourself with Ohio brews at a beer sampling event at Easton's Town Square. Better yet, your booze money will go to NAGAAA's selected local charities: education and prevention at the AIDS Resource Center of Ohio, as well as the Kaleidoscope Youth Center. It's a win-win.
Aug. 16: Sunday Funday
The party continues with a $15 beer bust and dancing at Park Street Patio. Then head over to Axis Nightclub for the crowning of Miss Gay Softball World Series 2015. Your $10 entrance fee (more if you spring for a premium table) plus any tips benefit the selected charities.
Aug. 17: Opening Ceremonies
Come to Columbus Commons for a performance by country singer Ty Herndon, and stay for food trucks, drinks and mingling with coaches and players. World Series spokesman Micheal Carroll says they have a few surprises up their sleeves, as well.
Aug. 18: For the Love of the Game
The first two days of the tournament (Tuesday and Wednesday) are pool play, "which is where each of the teams plays three games against randomly selected teams," Carroll says. More than 200 teams from around North America, including nine from Columbus, will compete at Berliner Sports Park.
Aug. 19: Anything But a Drag
Your experience wouldn't be complete without a West show, and with Nina West, Mary Ann Brandt and Virgina West on stage together for the first time in more than 12 years, "Cirque du So Gay – Under the Big Red Top" is guaranteed to be a roaring good time. Another charitable event, the show starts at 7 p.m. in the Regency Ballroom at Hyatt Regency Columbus Downtown.
Aug. 20: Animal Encounter
After watching the double-elimination rounds, which continue through Saturday, take advantage of the free shuttle from Downtown to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for the Hall of Fame Dinner. For a minimum donation of $50, enjoy an evening of dinner and cocktails, the inductee presentation, an animal presentation and giraffe feeding at the Heart of Africa exhibit.
Aug. 22: Prime Time
The World Series culminates Saturday with the championship games. "This is the best of the best," Carroll says. "You'll see some really good softball, have fun with friends and family. It's an all-around great day." But the fun's not over after the final pitch. Two blocks of High Street in the Short North, just past Buttles Avenue, will be closed off for a block party, so head over to celebrate with the winners.