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Dyke March festival to return to Grandview Park in 2012

Original home is prime for event's visibility: new president

Community recommendations arising out of the Dyke March and Festival Society's call for feedback include making the event more pet-friendly, more festival space, information for queers with disabilities, and a beer garden. Credit: Tallulah photo

Vancouver’s Dyke March festival will return to a refurbished Grandview Park in 2012, the organization’s board has announced.

“We’ve made that decision and it’s pretty perfect for the event,” new Dyke March Society president Theresa Wilson says.

The newly reconstructed East Vancouver park located on Commercial Dr has great new features, including a grassy-sloped area for seating, which will enhance community enjoyment during the annual summer festival, Wilson notes. As the festival’s original location, it’s also a prime spot for event visibility, she adds.

While the board is planning to keep the same family-friendly focus the event has maintained for years, they are also looking to implement various community recommendations. Some of those recommendations include plans to make it more pet-friendly, adding additional festival space and information for queers with disabilities, and the possible addition of a beer garden.

Wilson says the new ideas arose from the board’s request for community input. During this year’s march and festival, the board members received approximately 150 survey responses. They also received feedback on their Facebook page.

Wilson says the vast majority of those responding simply requested that the event remain in East Vancouver.

Wilson agrees.

“I really like East Van because it’s removed from the central part of the city, and it’s on the lesbian road,” she says with a chuckle, referring to the Drive.

Wilson says she relishes her new role as president. “I’m passionate about the organization. I am happy to help out and I am happy [the board] chose me for the role.”

Former president Sam Levy has been very supportive, Wilson notes, adding that “she’s been fantastic in helping us transition.”

Last spring the Dyke March and Festival was facing almost certain demise after its board announced that without community help and “new blood,” the annual lesbian-focused event would end.

Today the board is revived with the addition of eight new people to its 10-member group. New to the board this year are Wilson, Emily Plommer, Justin Sutherland, Laura Appleton, Mariegold Rondeau, Danielle Macdonell, Heather Buller and Melanie R. Returning to the board are Michelle Fortin and Alexis Bremner.

Wilson says the group’s diversity is refreshing, acknowledging the two trans members who now sit at the table.

“I think it makes a difference to have trans people on the board of the Dyke March,” agrees member Danielle Macdonell, who is trans. “[But] the last thing I want is to be the star tranny on the board,” she adds. “I’m there because the Dyke March is very, very important to me.”

Macdonell says she attended the Dyke March as an ally and later as a woman and says she knew she had to get involved to save the event when it faced problems last year. “I’ve always liked the Dyke March. It’s very community-oriented and I know many of the faces I see there,” she adds.

While open to potential festival changes, Macdonell says she is somewhat reluctant about various new proposals. “Even though I’m not personally in favour of the beer garden, I think it has to be considered,” she said. Implementing that plan will take “a lot of work,” she says, pointing to the need to acquire various city permits and additional licensing.

Macdonell is also skeptical about moving the festival back to Grandview Park. “I really did like Victoria Park as a venue,” she says. “I’m not overly fond of Grandview. I don’t like what they’ve done,” she adds, referring to the removal of trees, an element, she says, that made the space more intimate and welcoming.

“But we have to go back and ‘occupy’ Grandview,” she says with a laugh.