Crowds of people from all ages and backgrounds flocked to Kelowna Pride 2021’s market festival on Saturday, Oct. 30, the final day of a week jam-packed with Pride festivities.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., around 30 vendors were stationed outside of the Rotary Centre for the Arts (RCA), which was the site for this year’s Pride events. Live music was performed, and vendors included LGBTQS+ artists, School District 23 Central Okanagan, florists, counsellors, a baby chicken petting station and more.
“People are just happy to be out at stuff again,” said Dustyn Baulkham, general manager of Kelowna Pride. “But from an LGBT standpoint, people are just very appreciative that we’re doing in-person events. There’s been a lot of digital this year.”
Last year’s festival was divided into two sites: the Forbidden Spirits and Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Each venue featured musical lineups, but there were no vendors and capacity was limited to 50 people.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Baulkham said that around 12,000 people would attend Kelowna’s pride festival, which was traditionally hosted in June at City Park. According to Baulkham, a couple thousand people attended this year’s event.
“With everything going on this year, we thought this was a better location. The Rotary Centre has been great to work with,” he said.
“Everyone was just happy. They were smiling, they were thrilled to be out in the sun shining after a week of rain. All of that helps and the fact that it was a really beautiful day.”
Tyler Morgenstern, the RCA’s director of marketing and communications and a contractor with the Kelowna Pride Society, also said that he was happy to see families outside and enjoying each other’s company at the festival.
“With all of the uncertainty and all the work we’ve been doing to try and anticipate and keep on top of potential changes, it’s just really exciting to actually see an event come together and see people really enjoy it and be here,” said Morgenstern.
He added that he hopes that Kelowna Pride and the RCA collaborate in the future.
“I’m just a queer person who loves being able to connect with my community, especially since I’m relatively new to the valley,” he said. “It’s great to connect with all of my fellow queer folks and be present with one another after a long time being isolated.”
This year’s Pride festivities began on Oct. 22, with events including a bike derby, a trans and non-binary evening of storytelling and a pride cabaret.