Faith leaders to speak at Lakefield Pride Picnic on Sept. 24

LAKEFIELD — The Lakefield Pride Picnic, an annual youth-focused celebration of the local 2SLGBTQI+ community, is returning to the village on Sept. 24.

The third annual Lakefield Pride Picnic, organized by an eight-member volunteer-run committee affiliated with and supported by Peterborough Pride, will take place at Lakefield’s Isabel Morris Park — located at 20 Concession St. — from noon to 8 p.m. It coincides with Peterborough Pride Week.

The day-long celebration will feature a lineup of activities, including live entertainment, organized in part by youth members of the committee — part of a conscious effort to make the annual event a welcoming, safe place for young people.

“We’re really trying to ensure that there’s a place for youth to have active leadership,” said committee member Anne Showalter.

Guests attending the free-of-charge picnic can expect a host of family-friendly entertainment throughout the day at the park. There will be a musical performance and more from local performer Betty Baker. Sing-a-longs are also planned, along with plenty of activities for kids and information booths.

Hungry picnic-goers will be able to grab grub from on-site vendors. Artisan vendors will also be selling artwork at the park, and faith leaders are slated to speak at the event.

A march — a central part of the Lakefield Pride Picnic — will also take place in the afternoon. Showalter points out that the walk, which will see participants wind their way through Lakefield, is a march, not a parade.

It’s a nod to past marches in the fight for basic rights led by the 2SLGBTQI+ community, which faced widespread discrimination and, often, violence. It’s a celebration of the progress that’s been made — and a stark reminder of the improvements that still need to be made.

“(The picnic) started based on some experiences of people in the community that were deeply homophobic,” Showalter said.

When it comes to room for improvement when accepting and supporting the 2SLGBTQI+ community Showalter cites a recent incident in Lakefield.

After Selwyn Township and other community partners unveiled a new Pride crosswalk in July, complete with rainbow colours, lampposts on either side were soon covered in “religious materials,” according to Showalter.

That’s part of the reason she is thrilled faith leaders are speaking at this year’s picnic — to hopefully foster dialogue that leads to more understanding.

Continuing a tradition that began during the Lakefield Pride Picnic’s inaugural year in 2021, marches will carry a massive Pride flag, provided by RBC, during their trek through the village.

Peterborough Pride, Selwyn Township and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3908 are sponsoring the event.

“One of our huge goals is to ensure a safe, welcoming and supportive place for everyone to be exactly who they are. I hope this will continue on for generations,” Showalter said.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner