Muskoka Pride Festival celebrates 10 years

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Although Pride events have been held globally for over 50 years, the LGBTQ+ community now has more of a presence than ever.

“What started as a protest has evolved into a celebration of sexual and gender diversity,” said Shawn Forth from Muskoka Pride. “We hold these events to celebrate uniqueness and to come together as a community. All are welcome to these events, both LGBTQ and our straight allies.”

While many large cities such as Toronto and New York City attract crowds from all over the world, having a Pride event in Muskoka allows locals to be exposed to a culture they may not be familiar with.

“It’s important for people in Muskoka to realize that there is a vibrant LGBTQ population right here,” said Forth. “For youth who identify as LGBTQ it’s important to see themselves represented in the community through flag raisings, in parades and festivals.”

For the last six years, the Muskoka Pride Festival has begun its celebration in Huntsville.

To kick off the week there is live music, free food, activities for kids, information booths from community organizations, as well as vendors. River Mill Park will host the official 2018 launch on Friday, July 20 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Prior to the event at River Mill Park, the Pride committee will be hosting a flag raising ceremony in both Dwight (10 a.m.) and Huntsville (1 p.m).

As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the annual Muskoka Pride Festival, the celebrations will be bigger and better than ever.

The committee’s goal was to hold as many events as possible this year, and have organized at least one event in every municipality.

“Our goal this year is our theme for the festival: Bringing Pride To You,” said Forth. “We know that Muskoka has a vast geography, and that transportation is an issue for some residents, so our aim is to bring Pride celebrations to the different communities in Muskoka.”

Also new to this year’s lineup is the first-ever Pride Parade in Muskoka.

The parade takes place on Sunday, July 29 in Bracebridge at 11:30 a.m. and more than 100 people are expected to be involved. The groups will start at the arena and travel down Manitoba Street to Memorial Park. Groups and businesses can register for the parade online at muskokapride.com/parade.

“Over the last year we’ve seen a lot more rude, homophobic comments appearing on social media posts in Muskoka,” said Forth. “Some wonder if it is the Trump effect, but we are seeing more and more people making hate-filled comments to the LGBTQ community (among other marginalized groups).”

These hurtful comments demonstrate exactly why Muskoka needs such a visible and powerful 10th annual Pride Festival.

“Muskoka Pride is committed to holding public, family-friendly Pride events for the community,” said Forth. “This year we’re holding our first parade, a larger picnic than ever before, and we’re bringing our events to all municipalities in Muskoka. We’re excited to have our community partners and all levels of government represented over the course of the 10-day celebration.”

For a full list of events and schedule, visit muskokapride.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Len Macdonald on

    Can we expect an appearance from our newly elected Premier Ford? His cottage on Fawn Lake is only a few minutes away. No need to use “family weekend” as an excuse to shun the LGBTQ community any more.

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