The inaugural Pride Arts Festival will debut this Saturday in Osoyoos.
Presented by the South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society, Wide Arts National Association (WANA) and the Town of Osoyoos, the festival is a free full day of live entertainment celebrating local 2SLGBTQIA+ and/or BIPOC performing artists.
"The vision for this festival was very intentional,” said Pride Arts Festival committee member and SOS Pride board member Heather Adamson.
“In brainstorming and creating this festival, we wanted to highlight the themes of diversity, inclusion and equity in our communities. It’s a celebration of Pride and its history, as well as bringing attention to the ongoing inequities that exist in society. It was very important to us to create a festival where 2SLGBTQIA+ and BIPOC artists are celebrated.”
Festival MCs Keisha McLean and Humaira Hamid, both racilized artists, will speak about the importance of visibility and allowing marginalized voices to be heard.
"During the roaring 20s, we saw a huge uprising of BIPOC and 2SLGBTQAI+ representation in the performing arts sector,” explained McLean.
“In a time where systematic and interpersonal discrimination continued to marginalize these communities, both were embraced on the stage. This was one of the few times you would see 2SLGBTQAI+ and BIPOC people proudly visible and around communities who held great class, gender, race and sexuality privilege. 100 years later, here we are hosting an event focused on queer arts, celebrating the many ways these communities express themselves.”
The festival begins with an opening ceremony on the bandshell stage at 10:30 a.m., including a recognition of the Syilx Okanagan traditional territory and Osoyoos Indian Band.
Next up will be a walking pride march along Osoyoos Lake that will loop up and around onto Main Street to end back at Gyro Park.
Flags will be flown with Pride as people walk in solidarity to support creating safe and inclusive communities for all.
After the march, events will kick off at Gyro Park with a group yoga experience leading into the full day of live entertainment from performing artists of varying genres including dance, poetry and music.
There will also be a licensed bar featuring local craft beer & wine courtesy of Firehall Brewery, North Basin Brewing Co. and Stag’s Hollow Winery. Food trucks will also be on site as well as a selection of artisan vendors and community organizations.
“Pride looks different to different people, this festival is showcasing how art has been a huge part of queer culture historically and presently," explained McLean.
Many volunteers have signed on to help out.
"I have always loved the Jane Austen quote, 'It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do,'” said volunteer coordinator and festival committee member Angie Stuart.
“I have always been involved with the arts and support and promote local artists to the best of my ability. I have always been a firm believer of 'love everyone' but finally came into my own to accept and love myself for who I am later in life.”
Join the celebration in Osoyoos at Gyro Park this Saturday, Sept. 24 from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.