As summer begins to wind down, North Bay Pride celebrations are now only a month away.
Jason Maclennan, Communications Director for North Bay Pride, says the event will have a lot to offer.
However, despite it being a free event for the city, Mclennan says he’s read derogatory comments online, especially when it comes to the festival’s funding.
The organization received $90,000 from the feds earlier this month.
“When we talk about funding or grants… that doesn’t happen without our sponsors from the community and our funders. Our funding wasn’t just for this event. I wish I could spend it all on one grant but we’re not allowed to. We have to follow guidelines. It’s for a few events leading into next year that we’re working towards,” he said.
Mclennan says the event benefits our local economy.
“The arts were one of the fields hardest hit throughout the COVID pandemic. We hired local and Canadian artists throughout all of our shows. We’ve given them work. We have hotels, caterers, production that’s all local and getting work. We’re driving business into the community,” he said.
Mclennan says the online homophobic comments about the event show why it’s still as important as ever.
“It’s sad but it reminds us that we definitely need Pride. It’s true and clear. […] That’s the value. It proves it’s going to be here for a long time. Start enjoying it. Start accepting people. That’s what we do, we want to make it work. Remember that Pride is a protest. Just because we have some celebrations for some of the things we’ve done, don’t forget what Pride stands for; equality for everybody. That’s the most important thing.” he said.
The North Bay Pride festival will take place from September 15-19, and Mclennan is excited about what it has to offer.
“We have a discussion with Brock McGillis, a former NHL player speaking with Adam Dennis, the General Manager of the North Bay Battalion. Brock will talk about LGBT in sports and the effect of his coming out, and why it’s so important for many players to come out.”
The event will also have the finals of its drag competition.
“That’s on the Friday, and we’ll be holding the finals. The auditions have been submitted and we’re asking people to watch videos and vote on our Facebook page. The favourites will then take the stage in a competition hosted by local recording artist McKenzie Drive, and Tynomi Banks from Canada’s Drag Race,” said Mclennan.
Mclennan also says a block party is happening on Saturday, September 18th.
“That’s going to be taking place behind Cecil’s. We’ve worked out a deal with them and public health. It’s going to be a block party like you’ve never seen before! It’s open to all ages and all our welcome to come dance, eat, drink, be happy, and it’s going to be happening rain or shine as long as public health allows us. so far, It’s yes.”
Saturday will also feature Serena Ryder, Bif Naked, and Dani Doucette for the festival’s “WE ARE PRIDE” concert.
It will be hosted by comedian Alice Rose.
Mclennan says there are also some surprises that will be happening, but he can’t share them just yet.
For more information on North Bay Pride, visit their Facebook page.