Article: Joseph Brant, Out & About Nashville
From event/wedding planning in Atlanta, to The Connection, to Carrie Underwood, Ron Sanford Productions brings 25 years experience
The Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce surpassed 300 members in June. The diversity, expertise, and quantity of members have helped improve Chamber programs and events. TASTE and the Excellence in Business Awards, which benefit the Nashville LGBT Chamber Foundation, are two events that have consistently grown and improved. Ron Sanford Productions has been a key contributor to both events since 2015. Ron’s experience and contacts in the event business have helped the LGBT Chamber attract a growing number of sponsors, attendees, media, vendors, and participants for its events each year.
The LGBT Chamber met Ron when partnering to cohost The Perfect Wedding Guide, an educational event helping wedding vendors better prepare to work with same-sex couples. Ron has been a Gold member of the LGBT Chamber since that event in 2015. In 2017, Ron Sanford Productions was certified by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce as an LGBT Business Enterprise. He is attending his first NGLCC Business & Leadership Conference this month.
With over 25 years of experience in the fields of event and wedding planning, entertainment, and hospitality. Ron got his professional start in Atlanta, GA and was quickly enamored with the glamorous world of drag and male entertainers there. Firmly implanted in the gay nightlife scene so close to the Center for Disease Control, Ron was recruited to spread news of the HIV/AIDS epidemic rapidly growing throughout the nation. This is where the backbone of Ron’s charity work developed.
Winning Mr. Gay World in 1986 elevated Ron to a role model position that helped springboard his philanthropic endeavors into happier territory, making a career in party-planning a viable path. Given his newfound fame, he opened Lipstix, a successful female-impersonation club which launched many drag divas. Putting on a show every weekend easily led to planning large-scale events, including Atlanta Pride Fest.
This resulted in a collaboration between Ron and Road Shows catering, an on-set catering company for movie and television film crews. As Road Shows’ presentation specialist, Ron was introduced to Ted Turner and the Omni Hotel, where Turner’s offices were located. Becoming the Omni’s chief planner, Ron’s parties were touted as toast of the town, snagging him an integral part as a member of Elton John’s on-set crew during the filming of “The Circle of Life” music video.
It was hard to leave Atlanta with such a vibrant portfolio, however Ron needed to be closer to his aging mother. Moving to Nashville in 1995 Ron became general manager of The Connection, the south’s largest gay club at the time. That year Ron saved the day when he brought Nashville Pride out of the rain and into the club! One thing lead to another and in 2000 Ron was chair of Nashville Pride—the only year the parade came down Broadway.
In the years since, Ron has continued to work with famous clients, from Carrie Underwood to Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. Ron produced Jenny Gill’s wedding, despite the Nashville flood that devastated so many.
As Ron Sanford Productions starts out on its third year of operations, Ron can proudly list the company as a producer of An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends (where Ron is affectionately known as ‘Swoosh’), Miss Gay U.S. of A., Miss Gay America, the Montgomery Bell Academy prom, the Miss Kentucky Pageant, and Celebrate Nashville at the Ryman. The company is also chief planner and producer for the Tennessee Kidney Foundation’s Spring Soiree at the Omni Hotel.
In his very limited spare time, Ron travels the country as a wedding and event planner and is currently looking into real estate development back home in Nashville and abroad in the Dominican Republic. Watch out, world, Ron Sanford Productions may go international!
When in his Nashville, Ron can most often be found in his natural habitats: Play Dance Bar, Tribe, The Stirrup, Trax, Lipstick, and Canvas. If you see him, don’t be shy! He works hard so that he can play hard and is always willing to pay it forward to the Nashville LGBT community, eagerly supporting local LGBT charities such as Nashville Cares, Mr. Friendly, the Music City Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Oasis Center, GLSEN, and The Conductors.
Ron Sanford Productions has proudly sponsored the VIP areas of Nashville Pride for three years, won the 2017 Nashville Pride Philanthropic Business Award. He is a member of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce Event Committee for both TASTE and the Business Awards and was even a finalist for the 2017 Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce Business Awards’ Mark Lee Taylor Community Service Award.