Muskoka Pride Festival runs July 15-24

Muskoka Pride Festival this year is packed with activities from July 15 through July 24. The annual week of activities celebrates the Muskoka lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community.

According to Muskoka Pride board member, Shawn Forth, there are big things planned for this year’s Festival. “Probably the most exciting announcement is that we will be celebrating the wedding of two same-sex couples at this year’s Picnic in Bracebridge.”

The Pride Festival week begins on Friday, July 15 with the annual Pride Kickoff BBQ in Huntsville at River Mill Park. This year it will feature many more activities that last year. Local singer, Briar Summers, will be performing under the new band-shell. There will be community displays, free yoga classes, and participatory art for people to take part in. From 4:00 to 6:30, come and enjoy music, play some games and activities in the park, and enjoy a free BBQ

On Monday, July 18, there will be flag-raising ceremonies at all Muskoka municipalities. For the first time, Wahta First Nation will also be raising the Rainbow Pride flag.

Pride Week, Muskoka Pride, gay, LGBT, Muskoka, Gravenhurst
Happy group at rainbow flag raising at Gravenhurst Town Hall in 2013

The times of flag raising ceremonies are still being finalized.

Contests show support for LGBTQ community

Muskoka Pride is also launching two contests during the Pride Festival. Members of the community are invited to submit a photo showing Muskoka’s support for the LGBTQ community. Photos can be emailed to muskokapridefestival@hotmail.com

Businesses across Muskoka are also invited to create window/shelf displays of rainbows to celebrate the LGBTQ tourists. In surveys done at the annual Picnic, participants commented about the support shown from local businesses to welcome them to Muskoka through displays of rainbow colours.

Pride Picnic features singer Irish Mythen

Muskoka Pride will come to a close on Sunday, July 24, with the eighth annual Muskoka Pride Picnic. The annual Picnic takes place once again at Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge from noon – 4pm.

This year features a performance by East Coast folk singer Irish Mythen. From her website: “Mythen is a globetrotting troubadour – an Irish-born, contemporary Canadian folk artist who’s been amassing accolades and achievements across several continents over the years. Her presence and charisma simply command attention…she delivers a sonic and emotional experience that transcends language and location… It’s an experience that, in recent years, has earned her spots performing alongside Rod Stewart, Gordon Lightfoot, and Lucinda Williams and billings on major festival stages the world over.”

Also part of this year’s Picnic will be a double wedding, featuring two same-sex couples. Local cottager Jane Craig completed her journey to be a Lay Pastoral Chaplain this winter, and she brought the suggestion of a wedding to Muskoka Pride and everyone loved the idea. Two couples will be exchanging their vows during the Picnic in a ceremony conducted by Craig.

The public is invited to bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket as they enjoy this relaxed afternoon event. Food and beverages will be provided at this free family event.

Everyone, gay and straight alike, is welcome to attend all Muskoka Pride events. For a full list of events, please go to www.muskokapride.com or go to our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

The Muskoka Pride Festival has many sponsors, including the Bala Cranberry Festival and the RBC branches of Muskoka. Muskoka Pride received an Event Tourism grant from the Town of Bracebridge.

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