Pride and Transgender flags wave on the lawn of Fernie’s City Hall. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Pride and Transgender flags wave on the lawn of Fernie’s City Hall. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Annual Elk Valley Pride Festival paints the town rainbow

Festivities began with a spirited Pride Bike Parade and flag raising ceremony

Decked out in rainbow wigs, hats, sweaters and flags, revelers collected at Fernie’s City Hall on Sept. 24 to kick off this year’s Elk Valley Pride Festival.

Maintaining high spirits despite the rain, festivities began with the raising of Pride and Transgender flags, along with a series of speeches celebrating diversity and inclusivity. Speakers included Mayor Ange Qualizza, Tom Shypitka, Nic Milligan, and president of the Fernie Pride Society, Kevin Allen, who assured attendees that to have rainbows there must be rain.

The celebration continued as participants embarked on a jubilant bike parade fronted by Mayor Qualizza and Du’Way, where over 20 residents of all ages dressed in rainbow attire cheered as they weaved their way through the streets of Fernie.

The opening ceremonies culminated at City Hall, where attendees partook in a physically distant social and followed by a Beers and Queers event at the Royal Bar’s outdoor Beer Garden.

Spreading the ‘love is love’ even further, a number of virtual, outdoor, and socially distant events will continue to take place throughout Fernie until Sept. 27.

Among Friday’s celebrations is a virtual Drag Story and Craft Time, a Cooking with Kristy and a Queen class, and a Pride-themed drive-in movie at Fernie Alpine Resort.

Festivities ensue throughout the weekend with an Interfaith Pride Worship Service led by Andrea Brennan, a Rainbow Reads event hosted by author Suzette Mayr, a city-wide Rainbow Connections Scavenger Hunt, and a Puppy Pride Parade at the Railyard Dog Park.

The majority of this year’s events are free to attend, however pre-registration is required for all in-person activities to ensure capacity limitations are respected.

A number of events will also be streamed online to allow for greater participation and accessibility.

Event organizers encourage all residents and businesses to continue showing their Pride throughout the remainder of September with sidewalk art, window displays, and colourful drinks.

For a full list of this year’s Pride Festival events, or to register for participation, head to Ferniepride.ca.



reporter@thefreepress.ca

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Carrie Du’Way and Mayor Ange Qualizza led this year’s Pride Bike Parade. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Carrie Du’Way and Mayor Ange Qualizza led this year’s Pride Bike Parade. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)