SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's an event that's bold, full of costumes and can best be described as "only in San Francisco."
The Folsom Street Fair begins Sunday and is expected to draw the biggest crowd, not seen since the beginning of the pandemic.
The event is a chance for people to express themselves and the party is already getting started.
Tens of thousands of people clad in leather are expected to descend on San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood Sunday for the Folsom Street Fair, which celebrating its 40th year.
"It's about the freedom of expression, the freedom of being themselves," said Lex Montiel, owner of San Francisco Eagle Bar
Montiel says businesses are expecting a big boost this year, hoping to put COVID and M-Pox in the past.
"It's going to take a long time for us to recover, but we feel that right now is the moment that everything can start ramping up and to go to work to find the old ways that we used to have," Montiel said.
And he says people are once again flocking to the city for Folsom.
"Now I see that there are a lot of travelers from all over the place besides just San Francisco locals. That makes it really interesting for us and good because now we're really seeing that the people are coming back to San Francisco to visit," Montiel said.
"I can be myself out in public, which is not something that I always get to in Dallas or in Texas," said visitor Baron James.
People are finding acceptance here while LGBTQ+ people are under attack across the nation, with more than 500 bills taking aim at the community's rights.
"This is one of the few places in the world that I myself have seen that it really is a melting pot. You can have a young person, an older person, a leather person, a not leather person, a Trans, gay, and everything is all in one," James said.
"I grew up here so this is all just normal. This is love and people being themselves," said Castro Valley resident Alex Rodriguez.
TARA CAMPBELL: "What's it meant for you and your own journey to have this safe space?"
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: "Everything. I wouldn't be who I am without it. It really lets you be your entire self."
"It gives me a lot of hope that we're on the right track as long as we keep fighting and educating people that we're not here to spread hate we're here to love," said Zach Klinksy from Dallas, Texas.
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