The Elk Valley Pride Festival is just around the corner, promising four days of spirited, colourful fun.
Running from Sept. 24 until Sept. 27, festival organizers have devised a number of creative ways to maintain the highly anticipated in-person programming, while abiding by COVID-19 policies.
“We are so fortunate that the Elk Valley has an amazing network of allies and an amazing community of LGBTQ people,” said Courtney Baker, coordinator of the Pride Festival.
“We really want to make sure that the diversity and inclusion that we experience is celebrated, and that Pride is celebrated every year to recognize these amazing groups of people and amazing communities.”
In preparation for the event, the Arts Station’s executive director, Louise Ferguson, is hosting a Sewing 101 Pride Bunting class on Sept. 23. At the event, attendees will learn how to make Pride bunting to colourfully decorate their homes, offices, and businesses. The event is open to people of all abilities, with no sew options also available.
The Pride Festival kicks off the following day, with an opening ceremony and bike parade held on Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. The fun begins at Fernie’s City Hall, where Pride and transgender flags will be raised before a bike parade takes to the streets of Fernie.
“Even though Pride stems from the LGBTQ community, it’s open to everybody of all ages. There’s something for everybody to do. It’s really just about celebrating and recognizing diversity and focusing on the ‘love is love’ concept,” said Ferguson.
Returning to the festival this year is the popular Drag Story and Craft Time event, held on Sept. 25 from 10:30 a.m. Streamed via the Fernie Pride Society’s Facebook page, visiting drag queens and special guests will offer an hour of entertainment through stories, crafts and more.
Other events held on Sept. 25 include a presentation about the Rainbow Foundation of Hope, an organization dedicated to enabling safe migration of persecuted LGBTQ migrants. Tickets are required for the free event, held at the Fernie Seniors Centre from 1:30 p.m. until 3 p.m.
Starting at 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, the festival continues with Cooking with Kristy and a Queen, a free online cooking class for 13 to 17 year olds. Online registration is required.
The Pride Festival is also partnering with Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) this year to offer Reel Out, a drive in movie night on the evening of Sept. 25. The event will screen Pride, a rated R film revolving around Britain’s LGBTQ community in the 80’s. Limited to 50 vehicles, attendees must purchase a ticket for $26.74 prior to attendance.
On Sept. 26 at 1:30 p.m., the Pride Festival continues with a contemporary Fernie Queer History Walk led by Fernie Pride president, Kevin Allen. The walk leads participants through Fernie, detailing the places and people that make up the local queer landscape. The event is free, however requires registration as it is limited to 12 participants.
At 3 p.m. on Sept. 26, the festival continues with an interfaith Pride worship service hosted by Andrea Brennan, a local minister and priest. The socially distant event is limited to 50 people, and will be held on the lawn of Fernie’s City Hall.
Also on Sept. 26 is Rainbow Reads, an author event featuring Suzette Mayr and facilitated by local author Angie Abdou. The event discusses Mayr’s novel, Monoceros, and will be held in the Fernie Heritage Library garden at 7 p.m. Attendance is free however requires registration. The event will also be streamed live online.
To ensure safety of all participants, social distancing guidelines will be followed throughout the entirety of the predominantly outdoor festival, masks are encouraged, and sanitizing options will be offered.
Festival organizers encourage local businesses and organizations to show their support, promoting Pride throughout the entire month of September.
Fernie Pride Society buttons are available by donation at the Fernie Arts Station, Fernie Heritage Library, Barkside Pets, Fernie Museum, and Freyja Lifestyle Fashion, with funds going towards inclusive local programming.
For more information on regulations, updates on events, and to purchase tickets visit Ferniepride.ca. Head to the Fernie Pride Society’s Facebook page for more updates.