Main photo: (From left) Kelly Leeder, Greg Titus, Kim Scott, Jim McQuaig, Councillor Bob Stone, Huntsville OPP Staff Sergeant John Graham, Councillor Nancy Alcock, Michelle Emson, Mayor Scott Aitchison, Shawn Forth, and Town CAO Denise Corry celebrate the start of the 10th annual Muskoka Pride Festival with a flag-raising at Town Hall
Muskoka Pride Festival’s 10th anniversary kicked off today in Huntsville with a flag-raising ceremony and welcome BBQ.
The festival will be held over 10 days and features 20 events in towns across the region including Burks Falls, Gravenhurst, and Bracebridge, concluding with a big Pride Parade down the main street of Bracebridge.
“We wanted the festival to be inclusive of everyone in Muskoka so that’s why we spread our events out across the area,” said festival coordinator Shawn Forth.
Before the Pride flag was raised outside of Town Hall in downtown Huntsville, the festival made its way to Dwight to raise the flag there and have their own BBQ lunch.
The kick-off welcome BBQ was held in River Mill Park and featured 15 vendors from all over Muskoka, including included TD Bank and RBC (sponsors of the Muskoka Pride Festival), the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Home Depot and craft stands. The Huntsville Lake of Bays Fire Department was there to cook for everyone.
“We love when the guys from the fire department come because they are a great community liaison for us. We need to work together as a community because sadly homophobia does still exist here in Muskoka. Our goal is to create an inclusive and diverse Muskoka,” said Forth.
Big Brothers Big Sisters was at the festival to debut their new program called PRISM that supports LGBTQ youth in Muskoka. The first of its kind in Muskoka, PRISM matches youth who identify as LGBTQ with an adult who also identifies as LGBTQ for a one-on-one mentoring relationship.
Another organization that had a booth at the kick-off was PFLAG (Parents/Friends of Lesbians and Gays), an international organization which has had a Muskoka branch for 4 years.
“When my daughter came out as gay we both had nowhere to go for support and questions,” said organizer Sara Hay. “We want to support other parents and families with the same questions.”
To read the full list of events for this year’s Muskoka Pride Festival, click here.
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