Why is Windsor-Essex's Pride Fest in August? Here's a look at this year's big event

·3 min read
Just one of the unique costumes found at the Windsor Pride parade, from 2018. This year, the parade is back following a pandemic hiatus, on Sunday, Aug. 7.  (Meg Roberts/CBC - image credit)
Just one of the unique costumes found at the Windsor Pride parade, from 2018. This year, the parade is back following a pandemic hiatus, on Sunday, Aug. 7. (Meg Roberts/CBC - image credit)

While many communities are wrapping up their Pride month celebrations, Windsor-Essex still has its big festival to look forward to in August. But why not June?

Wendi Nicholson is the president of Windsor-Essex Pride Fest, the non-profit behind the annual festival and other programs for the LGBTQ community. She says holding the annual event in August gives more space to keep Pride celebrations going.

"The organization decided 17 years ago or so that, 'Why are we competing with other events and activities?'" she said.

"We looked at the factors and the logistics, the weather — and made a decision to move into August. August is a pretty good month. It's nice. It's warm."

Nicholson says there are other area Pride celebrations outside of June — including London's in July, Chatham's in August, and Sarnia's in July.

"Since we've done that change, we've gone from a couple hundred people in a day to several thousand in a day. So I'm thinking, yup, that's a pretty good move," said Nicholson.

"Pride isn't just one month, it's year round. So we spread the love a little bit longer than one month."

Pride Fest is celebrating 30 years this year.

The event "started as a small gathering in a parking lot of a pub in Walkerville with just a handful of people getting together, and saying, 'Hey, let's get this community going,'" Nicholson said.

CBC News
CBC News

From there, the gathering moved to Charles Clark Park across from the square. That's when a march began involving a few hundred people, she says.

"We move up to today — it's three days we've gone from a hundred people to like thousands of people, and the entertainment, vendors, just the community coming out is just amazing."

This year, the festival is back in person Aug. 2 to 7. It will start with a flag raising and end with a festival and parade on Aug. 7.

WATCH | Are there enough LGBTQ spaces and activities in Windsor-Essex? 

At the University of Windsor, Pride events in June included information sessions and LGBTQ-focused events.

Joyceln Lorito, co-chair of the UWindsor Pride Committee, says she's glad to see more on-campus Pride and LGBTQ events — and the growing numbers of people who attend.

But she's also like to see more off-campus, community-wide events and spaces.

"We're doing really well with the Qlink collaboration and making sure that students and young people have a place to go ... to do all of those like therapies and counselling and things like that. I think that's absolutely wonderful," said Lorito.

But "I think from a fun aspect, there's not enough."

Darrin Di Carlo/CBC
Darrin Di Carlo/CBC

"I would say Windsor as a city has lots of growing to do," said Fei Qin, equity, diversity and inclusion supervisor at the Lancer Centre.

"I feel like we're in a more progressive era and there will be more spaces and especially with how diverse our city is looking ... definitely a lot of more safe spaces [and] more fun things to do."

Qin says LGBTQ-friendly spaces and events are important.

"If it even helps one person who's not comfortable with themselves, just to have that space to be safe and be who they are."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting