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Creston to celebrate first-ever Pride Festival

OUTspoken is leaving its legacy for the 2SLGBTQ+ community
outspoken
Members of OUTspoken pictured at the Creston Valley Blossom Festival parade in May.

With Creston celebrating its centennial this year, 2024 is a fitting time to make history. 

OUTspoken, the local 2SLGBTQ+ community, plans to host the town’s first Pride festival on the last weekend of June.

Since forming in 2017, this is a huge milestone for the group. Along the way, OUTspoken hasn’t always been met with acceptance. From public harassment to online vitriol, Creston’s 2SLGBTQ+  have struggled to feel safe in their own hometown. But now thanks to an outpouring of support, OUTspoken has gained momentum with a committee 22-members strong. 

It began in October last year during the SOGI protests, when some members realized how much their presence was needed. 

“The difference is the love this time, the hate has always been there,” said Nikolas, co-ordinator for OUTspoken. “We've had so many people come up to us and say, ‘That is not the Creston that I want to live in.’”

The Advance has chosen to withhold the co-ordinators' last names.
 
Over the last six months of planning the festival, OUTspoken has worked towards visibility around town with a Pride flag at town hall and a regular booth at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market.

“My goal is to show other people in this community that they’re not alone,” said Sara, also a co-ordinator for OUTspoken. “We want to highlight and celebrate what we've achieved so far and what our community is all about.”

The hate-fuelled, hurtful comments their members have received over the last seven years have been “unsettling and scarring,” causing OUTspoken to go quiet at times. 

“That's why we're holding Pride Fest, because it's not about hiding,” said Sara. “It's time for us to be loud and be proud. I want to be happy about who I am in my community — a community that is proving to be more inclusive, more open, and understanding.”

The festival will be held on June 29, the day after the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York City, in solidarity and remembrance.

The event will be hosted at Mountain Park Resort starting with a market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with vendors coming from as far as Vancouver and Kelowna. In the afternoon, trivia from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and open mic from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The celebration will continue into the evening with music, special guest performers, dancing, and games from 8 to 11 p.m. 

It is all thanks to the work of volunteers and crowdfunding. 

“We have an incredible committee of people who have given their heart and soul,” said Sara. “I am incredibly excited to be able to provide a place where we can feel safe, where we can have a fun atmosphere, where we can enjoy ourselves and celebrate our history.”

Another big motivation for hosting the festival is to bring tourism dollars into the Creston Valley, especially during a year when the local orchards are struggling due to unusual weather. 

“Community growth is a big part of it,” said Nikolas. “We can help with that. Every person who comes for Pride Fest also needs to eat meals or stay the night. That's something that could be a regular thing, bringing people to town for entertainment.”

Volunteers and donations for festival support or prizes are still needed. To help, get in touch through the OUTspoken Facebook page or at outspoken-creston@hotmail.com.



Kelsey Yates

About the Author: Kelsey Yates

Kelsey Yates has had a lifelong passion for newspapers and storytelling. Originally from Alberta, she graduated from SAIT Polytechnic's journalism program in 2016.
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