Planning is well underway for Collingwood Pride 2023 and event organizers are saying it will be “bigger and better” than ever before.
“After the huge success of last year, excitement is brewing,” said John Miller, president of the Rainbow Club of South Georgian Bay and team lead for Collingwood Pride.
Hosted by the Rainbow Club, Collingwood Pride is a free, outdoor community event that will take place July 14 to 16, 2023.
According to Miller, this year’s Pride will pay homage to Pride worldwide and celebrate its core values of friendship, equality, education, respect, tolerance and collaboration.
“I know that we are going to see that this year's Pride festival will be one of Ontario’s premier events, something that I and the community of Collingwood will be very proud of,” said Miller.
The Rainbow Club had always planned on having a large festival for Pride, but plans to launch the inaugural event in 2020 were impacted by the pandemic. In 2021, the club pivoted to an interactive virtual event with an array of community and celebrity speakers. Finally, in 2022, the rainbow flag was raised at the Collingwood Public Library on July 15, 2022, kick-starting the festival that was talked about for over three years.
On July 16, 2022, the Rainbow Club and the Collingwood Downtown BIA also held the first-ever Collingwood Pride parade, with attendance somewhere in the thousands.
This year, they have even more in the works.
“Now we are back in 2023 and finally able to fulfill our original vision of a three-day outdoor festival with a mainstage featuring live entertainment, a vendor market, a beer garden, and incredible programming for everyone to enjoy,” said Collingwood Pride festival director, Lori D’Agostino, in a release.
The downtown Collingwood Pride parade will return on July 15 and Miller said the plan is to multiply the noise, music and dancing by a factor of 10.
“It will be like last year’s parade on steroids,” laughed Miller. “So that will be incredible.”
Also new this year will be an array of live entertainment on one outdoor stage and one indoor stage including: live musical performances, a speaker series, DJs, live comedy, films, drag performances, education, and more. In addition, there will be a vendor market hosted by Make Waves Markets, complete with an educational and community outreach zone, and a children’s fun and play zone co-curated by the Collingwood Youth Centre and Elephant Thoughts.
“There really will be something for everyone,” said Miller.
And while attendance for last year’s festival was impressive, Miller thinks this year will top it. “I think everyone heard how successful it was last year and people are making a point to be around and come this year.”
Overall, Collingwood Pride promises to be a fantastic event that celebrates diversity and promotes understanding and acceptance. Miller said it's a great opportunity for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies to come together and celebrate the progress that has been made in promoting LGBTQ+ rights and equality, while also recognizing that there's still work to be done.
“I think last year we gave people a new appreciation for gay culture,” Miller said. “And that’s the whole point of it.”
Promoting diversity and inclusion has been a major initiative in Collingwood the past several years, thanks largely to The Rainbow Club of South Georgian Bay.
As a non-profit organization that is committed to supporting the LGBTQ+ community in the region, The Rainbow Club has become much more than just the host of Collingwood Pride. Their mission is to create a safe and welcoming space for individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities, where they can come together, connect, and support each other.
“We have become a bigger movement,” said Miller. “Pride is a very big aspect, but it’s only one aspect of The Rainbow Club and the work that we do.”