Members of the Sault Pride Committee are ecstatic to welcome back their annual Pridefest, a nine-day spectacular jam-packed with around a dozen fun and educational events.
The program has grown immensely over the last several years, and there are more events this year than ever before.
Cash Giardino, a member of the Sault Pride Committee since 2020, says this is the first year they developed a sponsorship program, which he explains has been an important piece in making the event possible.
“The response from the community has been amazing, and the number of sponsorships has grown exponentially,” he says. “We have OLG, which is the Pridefest presenting sponsor, and we have some returning sponsors that we see support from every year. But we have a lot of new sponsors this year, too, which has been great.”
The week’s festivities will begin with the Pride float in the Rotary Day Parade on July 16, which Giardino explains is a big deal for 2SLGBTQIA+ members in town.
"By being part of the parade, we get to show that we’re here, we’re visible, and we’re part of the community,” he says. “We’ll get to do it in front of everyone that shows up to the parade, and it leads us right into our week.”
On July 17, a flag raising will take place at city hall at noon, followed by a Pride walk to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre for the Loud & Proud Family Fun Day.
Among the new events, this year includes Bingo at Coch’s Corner, as well as a Safe Spaces workshop at Algoma University, and a Fun Run at Clergue Park.
Giardino says celebrations like this are designed to have a positive impact on the Sault as a whole.
“It’s about inclusivity, diversity, and celebrating ourselves and our community,” he says. “It’s a way to reflect, to learn from each other, and learn through some of the events. And you can also just have a really good time.”
While Giardino recognizes the week-long event won’t solve every issue the Pride community faces, it’s a step in the right direction.
“Does it tear down all the barriers that we face? Of course not,” he says. “That takes more than a week and more than one committee. But having that welcoming environment will allow those people to have fun and be comfortable with themselves. I’d like to think with more representation; there’s more progression.”
For Pridefest’s full itinerary, visit here.