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Peak Pride drag veteran Sparkle shares her best festival tips

You can still strut your stuff while bundled up on a ski hill

Sparkle at Peak Pride 2017 Credit: Courtesy Karlee Tess Photography

Drinks, drag and downslopes. If the sound of Pride festivals in lofty locales piques your interest, then look no further for a place to celebrate queer culture this year: Peak Pride with fresh powder and a fresh new look.

Peak Pride’s much anticipated sophomore return promises to take Pride celebrations to new heights on the scenic overlook of Big White Mountain in Kelowna, BC.

“A little drag queen tip: get your booze before you go up the mountain because it’s really expensive,” says Sparkle, a Peak Pride veteran and a self-described fiend for glamour and glitter.

Sparkle, drag queen extraordinaire, plans on trekking up the mountain again this April to bedazzle visitors from across the globe, though she insists that she is only part of what Peak Pride has on tap this year.

“It’s a fabulous weekend to let loose and get out of your regular town. Go for a little vacation or gay-cation,” she says.

The event promises live music by the likes of Calgary’s own DJ Dopamine, and performances by local drag queens Ginger Snapp and Alexa Nerezza.

Excited for her return to Canada’s newest winter Pride destination, Sparkle said there is no limit to what Big White has to offer, granted that one wears appropriate footwear and not the five-inch heels she favours.

But if you are set on flaunting elegant footwear in sub-zero temperatures, Sparkle has another tip for soon-to-be frozen fashionistas, namely relying on the kindness of strangers.

“I just attach myself to the closest man. I latch onto his shoulder and I’m like ‘let’s go.’ Last year I had three big ol’ daddy bears helping me down the hill,” she says.

But the real draw is the community, according to Sparkle.

“The locals up at Big White seemed quite excited to have Peak Pride going on,” she says. “One night, a whole bunch of ski bunnies that work up on the mountain, with their Australian accents, dressed up in drag and came out. Not good drag — they’re not drag queens. Men in dresses but hey, they tried.”

Discounting the notion that big cities and coastal hubs are the only enclaves for queer expression, Sparkle stresses that queer communities are in fact thriving in places people might not expect, like nearby Revelstoke, where Sparkle has previously performed.

“They treated me like a complete celebrity there . . . there were tons of allies. Everyone was super welcoming and loving and people wanted to buy me drinks and they were having a great time,” she says.

The festival has attracted its fair share of celebrities as well. Sparkle remembers being pulled on-stage for a duet with former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Alyssa Edwards.

“She just kind of pointed me out in the crowd. She said: ‘Can you do Tatianna’s part?’ And then people just kind of pushed me up on stage,” Sparkle recalls, calling the opportunity to perform with an idol as “dream come true.”

Alyssa Edwards performs with Sparkle during Peak Pride 2017 Credit: Courtesy Evan Eisenstadt

Rupaul’s Drag Race has really opened up a door into a wider area. You’re not just going to find drag in those larger cities like Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.”

The festival combines acclaimed performers with the intimacy of a small town setting.

“What makes Peak Pride special? Obviously me. But other than that, it’s got more of a smaller community feel than some bigger festivals. A little more about togetherness.” Sparkle says.

“It’s not all about the cliques and stuff. Everyone’s there to be together, not be in their own little groups. We’re all family. We’re all chosen family.”