The 2010 Pride Festival in Saskatoon was an overwhelming success with thousands of people participating. All events during the eight day festival saw huge increases in attendance straining the facilities where those events were held.
Brice Field, the chair of the Saskatoon Diversity Network which organizes Pride each year, says he is pleased with this year’s festival. “It was a fantastic week,” he said. “The number of people participating was beyond our expectations. We haven’t had one event that hasn’t grown in attendance.”
On June 12 1,600 people paraded through downtown Saskatoon in the largest Pride parade to date. Last year 1,000 people marched in the parade. In previous years the streets were largely empty as the parade passed by with only a few shoppers stopping to watch the colourful and noisy parade. This year many more people seemed to have come out for the purpose of watching the parade go by as a local radio station heavily promoted the parade and festival.
The parade began at City Hall Square and ended back there where participants could enjoy the Pride Fair. Field says that 2,500 people were cramped into the quarter block area where they were entertained by a number of performers and could meander through the many booths of local businesses and community groups. The beer garden was a popular attraction and was packed to capacity throughout the day.
Earlier in the week the Family Day in the Park, which was held Sunday in downtown Kinsmen Park, was overwhelmed by non-gay people and their kids who were drawn to the free hamburgers and hotdogs being given out. “The park concession was selling burgers for $3 while we were handing ours out free so we were very popular with park patrons,” Field said.
The Avenue Community Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (ACC) held their 2nd Annual Welcome to the Gaybourhood Block Party on June 9 as part of the Pride Festival. Attendance was up 25 percent with over 1,000 people showing up for the free burgers, hotdogs and entertainment. The event is held in an inner city neighbourhood with a large population of immigrants, Aboriginals and the poor. Community groups from the area set up booths this year to showcase the services that they offer. “We were very pleased with this year’s event as everyone seemed to have a good time and we were able to present our Centre as an important part of the community,” said Bob Challis, co-director of the ACC.
Other events that took place during the festival included the Queer We Are art show and reception, the Gayest Bingo Ever, an evening celebrating the freedom of the written word, church services, an amateur comedy night and of course, the usual drag shows and club dances.
Field says the 2010 Festival was a huge financial success which will allow them the opportunity to fund a large scale festival next year. The festival received funding from the city, the federal government as well as sponsors. A larger festival will necessitate having to find larger venues to host the various events that make up the Pride Festival in Saskatoon.