Hop Knot celebrates last day of Pride with Big Gay Brunch drag show

Fans enjoying a drag show and tipping Pancake, one of the performers at The Hop Knot during Pride month in Manchester. Photo/Winter Trabex

MANCHESTER, NH – On the last day of Pride month, June 30th, the Hop Knot in Manchester hosted a brunch event featuring four drag performers. The event was organized by Big Gay Events, who will celebrate their first anniversary in business on July 21st at the same location. 

Fans started filing in when the Hop Knot opened at 10 a.m., ordering a variety of alcoholic beverages and pretzel sandwiches while the performers prepared for the show. Despite the Hop Knot being a small location with limited seating, the fans in attendance were nonetheless rowdy and generous with dollar bills.

This event was one of a series of drag events put on by the Hop Knot, which has made it a regular feature as part of their business model. The owner, Kenny Frasch, has made a point of making his business as LGBT+ friendly as possible.

From left, performers Pancake and Onyx Reigns, Big Gay Events owners Alex Ralph and Philip Smith, performers Vernoica LaForce, and Chi Chi Marvel. Photo/Winter Trabex

“That’s just what we do,” Frasch said. “We do it all the time at the Hop Knot. It’s always the best days for us. Business-wise and energy-wise, the drag shows always bring it. Especially right now, it’s more important to throw drag in people’s faces because of all the stuff that’s going around legality-wise in the country. It’s important for us, for all these people, for our performers to get their coin. Gay people and trans people deserve to be paid during Pride.”

Big Gay Event’s first event was a drag show put on by a performer named Pancake. The group helped out with Pancake’s performance last year. They have been business partners ever since.

“We’ve been involved in a total of 15 events [during Pride month],” Big Gay Events co-owner Philip Smith said. “Counting drag shows, I think this is number 6 or 7.”

“It’s amazing. We’ve been open since July 2023,” Alex Ralph, also a co-owner of Big Gay Events, said. “We have been working with the drag shows, working with the community since then. It has been a great experience. It’s been a lot of fun.”

“It’s been so good,” Smith said. “I recently moved to Manchester in the last couple of years. It was a very different experience from living in Portland. It feels like it’s just as strong here as it is in Portland, just more active. It’s really awesome getting involved with the drag community, with other queer communities here in Manchester and to see the support, to see people come out for the shows.”

Pancake, along with their fellow performers Chi Chi Marvel, Onyx Reigns, and Veronica LaForce, danced with energy and verve. They credited their performance to being tired and wanting to give everything they had. After the show, they confessed, they wanted to go right to bed and rest. As a performer for Manchester’s yearly Pride fest event, Pancake spent most of the day marching, performing, and entertaining.

Pancake rocks the mic and entertains the crowd during a drag brunch at The Hop Knot. Photo/Winter Trabex

“It was my first time being on the Manchester Pride stage,” Pancake said. “It was so phenomenal to see so many people come out and support us. I had so many people coming up to me during the show and after letting me know, ‘I don’t feel like I can be myself, but coming here and seeing what’s going on, I feel so in tune to my identity. I feel so true to who I am. I’m going to start being more authentic with myself.’ That was just was so rewarding, so amazing, and phenomenal.”

Two weeks later, when they returned to do another performance in Manchester, they experienced a similar positive response.

“Today was amazing,” Pancake said. “As drag performers, as those who work for most of Pride, it is exhausting. It is still so rewarding. We still get to do so much for the community. This is our big send-off of Pride. We really wanted to just have a great show, have fun, have people come out and just have a good time.”