Muskoka Pride has announced that July 20th through 29th is the 2018 Muskoka Pride Festival. The annual week of activities celebrates the Muskoka lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community.
This year’s celebration is special, according to Muskoka Pride board member Shawn Forth, because it celebrates 10 years of LGBTQ visibility in Muskoka. “The first Picnic was held 10 years ago with only 26 attendees and a lot of uncertainty of how the public would react. Fast forward ten years and we’re expecting hundreds of people to attend the Picnic and Muskoka’s first-ever Pride Parade, plus many events across Muskoka.”
This year’s Festival theme is “Bringing Pride To You,” which represents an acknowledgement of Muskoka’s huge geography and Muskoka Pride’s commitment to holding events in all municipalities. “Distance and transportation is an issue for many people in Muskoka,” explains Forth, “so this year we’re doing our best to bring Pride celebrations to the different communities.”
All municipalities in Muskoka will be raising the Rainbow Pride flag, but it is happening differently this year. Instead of the flags all being raised simultaneously, each community will have it’s flag raising individually, followed by a community BBQ to allow residents to participate in the Pride celebrations locally.
Flag Raising schedule:
Friday July 20
- Dwight at 10AM
- Huntsville at 1PM
Monday July 23
- Bracebridge at 11AM
- Gravenhurst at 2PM
Tuesday July 24
- Port Severn at 10AM
- Wahta First Nation at 1PM
- Port Carling at 3PM
The Pride Festival week begins on Friday July 20th with the annual Pride Kickoff BBQ in Huntsville at River Mill Park. Over 200 people are expected to attend. There will be free hot dogs and drinks, over 15 vendors and community booths, a music DJ, and events for the whole family. Volunteers from the Huntsville Fire Department will once again be cooking food at the BBQ.
The week will play host to several events. A Pride Church service will be held at Port Carling United Church on July 22nd. The Gravenhurst Opera House is holding a pride night on Wednesday July 25th. The annual mini-golf tournament in Bracebridge on Thursday July 26th. A film screening of “Love, Simon” and a speaker series starting at 6PM in Bracebridge on Friday July 27th. On Saturday July 28th there will be a Drag Show at Sawdust City Brewery, which organizers expect to be at full capacity.
Picnic and Parade:
The Muskoka Pride Festival will come to a close on Sunday, July 29th with the tenth annual Muskoka Pride Picnic and Muskoka’s first-ever Pride Parade.
The Parade will start at 11:30 along Manitoba Street, finishing at Memorial Park. Many groups have already signed up, but there is still time for additional groups to register online at www.muskokapride.com
The 10th annual Picnic takes place this year at Memorial Park in downtown Bracebridge from Noon – 4PM.
This year’s Picnic will feature live music by local band, “The Dirty Little Swing Thing.” There will be over 35 vendors and community booths. The public is invited to bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket as they enjoy this relaxed afternoon event. Food and beverages will be provided at this free family event. The Bracebridge Fire Department will be cooking at the BBQ again this year.
Everyone, no matter how you identify, is welcome to attend all Muskoka Pride events.
To see a full schedule of events go to www.muskokapride.com or click “Events” on the Muskoka Pride Facebook Page.
Photo Credit: Shawn Forth