‘Bigger, bolder, braver’: In-person Pride festival returns to Haldimand-Norfolk

·2 min read

After going virtual in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pride Haldimand Norfolk will host an in-person festival in Caledonia on Saturday that the group says will be “bigger, bolder, and braver than ever.”

From noon until 5 p.m., all are welcome for an afternoon of art, advocacy, live music and family fun in McKinnon Park in Caledonia.

“This year’s theme is ‘Dare to Be Yourself,’” Pride Haldimand Norfolk said in a media release.

That celebration will include performances from Hamilton singer-songwriter Darcy Feaver, Indigenous trans artist Quanah Style and headliner Danny Dymond, a Caledonia-raised electro-pop artist and the new chair of Pride Haldimand Norfolk.

Justin Preston, founder of the Rise Against Bullying campaign, is among the scheduled speakers, while members of Guelph’s TransArtivist Project will lead attendees in a community art project aimed to “artistically showcase what a queer friendly future would look like.”

Leading up to the festival, the Pride flag was raised outside the Haldimand County administrative building in Cayuga on Tuesday for the second time in the county’s history. Public outcry last year prompted the county to change its flag policy and consider requests from third-party groups.

Pride Haldimand Norfolk member Meghan Piironen called the milestone “an incredible step in the right direction for making Haldimand County a safer and more accepting place.”

“Especially in our rural community, acceptance can be hard to find,” Piironen said in an email.

Raising the Pride flag and the return of the festival are signs “that we are here and will not stop fighting for the safety and acceptance of all people,” Piironen added.

The Pride group plans to soon place a rainbow bench in Central Park in Dunnville, while a rainbow crosswalk will be in installed in Simcoe this summer after a fundraising campaign led by nine-year-old Ryder Mandryk brought in more than $17,000 in donations.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator

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