HAVE A CUP OF JOE WITH JOE – Windsor-Essex Pride Fest 2022 . . . 30 Years Young & Still Growing Our Colours
Like so many of Windsor and Essex County’s favourite annual summer events, the Windsor-Essex Pride Fest (WEPF) is back with gusto and ready to celebrate this August.
For years this festival was the “new kid on the block,” but it is now all grown up and marking its 30th anniversary in its permanent home at Lanspeary Park. It takes place August 2 to 7, 2022.
WEPF is a non-profit organization delivering a number of unique social programs, activities and events, which contribute to the vibrancy, health and well-being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Two Spirit (LGBTQ2S+) residents in Windsor Essex. The work of WEPF strengthens the overall community.
This year, Pride Fest kick offs with the official flag raising at City Hall (Charles Clarke Square) on Tuesday, August 2. City of Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, political dignitaries, and other special guests are scheduled to attend.
Then the party really gets started! Throughout the festival there are educational workshops, entertainment, local retail/food marketplace vendors, family friendly activities and of course, the annual Pride Parade.
First up, an annual WEPF event that is always a real crowd pleaser is the Thursday night free bowling for family, friends and allies of the gay community, at REVS Rose Bowl Bowling Centre, 2482 Dougall Avenue.
Organized by community member, Ginny Lundgren, for the past decade or so she has packed all the lanes with toddlers, kids, seniors, moms and dads — a wonderful cross section of the community. Food, drink and plenty of door prizes are enjoyed by all, and bowlers are treated to the state-of-the-art Cosmic Bowling and Disco laser light show, while listening to the latest in Top 40 music.
After all the strikes and gutter balls are over, the rest of the weekend offers an entertainment and shopping extravaganza!
Friday night is hosted by the incomparable Mel Lucier, a local favourite “naughty girl” with a great comedic repertoire.
Highlighting the evening is Alisabeth Von Presley who has appeared on American Idol (Season 12), and then on NBC’s American Song Contest, this past winter. As well, returning performer singer-songwriter Carly Thomas from London, Ontario and Michigan’s Nikki Holland & The Dirty Elizabeths also hit the stage.
WEPF, along with Nancy and Rob Campana, Co-founders of The Run for Rocky Legacy Project, recently announced that after a five year hiatus the Run for Rocky returns as part of the festival schedule on Saturday, August 6 at 10 a.m. from Dieppe Gardens.
According to Nancy: “This event attracts a large number of families and is the only LGBTQ+ walk/run in the region. We are excited that the event will get even more focus this year being part of Windsor-Essex Pride Fest event line up.”
Rob adds: “Donations from this year’s event will help support all local LGBTQ+ agencies with a portion of the funds donated to Windsor Pride Community ; Trans Wellness Ontario (1435 Tecumseh Road East; and Windsor-Essex Pride Fest.”
To participate in the 3 km walk/5 km run you can register on: RunForRocky.com.
So, after all that exercise Saturday morning the Run for Rocky After Party continues at Lanspeary Park with the Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra, and local sensations, Leave Those Kids Alone. As stated on the website: LeaveThoseKidsAloneBand.com, these are “five talented kids playing classic rock hit songs written decades before they were even born! You won’t believe your eyes or your ears!”
AM800 CKLW radio show host/music jock, Dan MacDonald, takes care of hosting the Saturday night activities, Queens of Pride, which includes headliner Jackie Cox (Ru Paul’s Drag Race) and Halal Bae (Canada’s Drag Race).
WEPF’s signature event — the Pride Parade — takes place Sunday, August 7 (Pride Day) at 11 a.m. from Argyle Street westward down Ottawa Street to Lanspeary Park.
WEPF President Wendi Nicholson tells us: “I am confident that this year’s lineup of floats and entries will exceed the 2019 parade’s record number of 93 entries.”
Nicholson is in her 10th year volunteering for WEPF and is a fixture to behold as she coordinates and directs the parade from the intersection at Argyle and Ottawa.
Her infectious voice commands and dance routines are exactly what’s necessary to induce the adrenalin needed by parade participants — especially those who partied Saturday night late into the early morning hours.
After the parade concludes on Sunday, Sabin, a multi-talented performer from Detroit, hosts the afternoon family entertainment on the Lanspeary Park stage.
So, why do we celebrate Pride and Pride Fest every year?
I believe it is so that all people — regardless of gender identification and/or sexual orientation — will be able to live their lives according to the words of George Takei: “We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.”
For more information and details of all events check: WEPrideFest.com.