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New West’s Pride fest raises the bar

The Royal City Pride Society is taking its New West Pride Festival to the street this year. Not only has president Ian Gould and vice-president Jeremy Perry expanded it from three to nine days, the big event will be a street festival Aug. 16 on Columbia Street between Fourth and Sixth streets. - Grant Granger/NewsLeader
The Royal City Pride Society is taking its New West Pride Festival to the street this year. Not only has president Ian Gould and vice-president Jeremy Perry expanded it from three to nine days, the big event will be a street festival Aug. 16 on Columbia Street between Fourth and Sixth streets.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NewsLeader

A year ago, Royal City Pride Society president Ian Gould wanted to kick its fifth annual New West Pride Festival up a notch or two.

Well, he just might need a ladder because the bar has been raised a lot higher.

Instead of a three-day party like last year, the 2014 version will go nine days starting Friday. There will be events every day until Aug. 16 when they’ll wrap things up with a big party on Columbia Street.

“There’s so much going on it’s hard to keep it straight,” says Gould.

His pun was not intended. “There’s nothing straight around here,” chimes in vice-president Jeremy Perry with a laugh.

“It always was the long-term goal to take the [festival and] grow it to a position where we felt that would be possible to do,” says Gould of having the festival run over two weekends. “I feel very confident in what we’re doing this year. Judging by the feedback from the community it will be very successful.”

Gould and Perry say the idea to stretch it out over two weekends came about because their Friday night kickoff Stonewall Dance and the main festival event on Saturday afternoon were too close together. It was difficult logistically and energy-sapping for organizers.

So they looked at starting a week earlier. They feared not having enough events, but it was easier than they thought. Many of the events they’ve lined up already exist in the community.

“This is an opportunity to showcase what regularly occurs,” says Perry.

For instance, there’s a weekly drag show at the Heritage Grill on Sundays. The Royal Family Bowling League at Lucky Strike Lanes is the longest-running LGBQT bowling league in the province and they’ll hold a social night on Tuesday.

They’ve even hooked up with Sunday’s Uptown Live! and this weekend’s New West Cultural Crawl.

But there will also be some unique events such as Steel & Oak Brewing Co. tapping “a bold and fruity cask” to commemorate the festival next Wednesday.

Some heavy-duty topics are also in the lineup. There will be a Lesbian Oral Testimony talk at the New Westminster Public Library on Monday, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. The first of a five-week discussion series on spirituality and gay men’s journeys at Holy Trinity Cathedral kicks off on Thursday, Aug. 14.

They wanted to bring the festival’s marquee festival event down to Columbia Street from Tipperary Park for a couple of reasons. First, they’d seen the success and dynamic energy generated by summer street events like the Royal City Show & Shine and the StrEAT food truck festival. Second, it will be held right beside the Columbia SkyTrain station, between Fourth and Sixth streets, saving visitors from trekking up the hill.

“Vancouverites are notorious for not wanting to leave the three-block bubbles they have for themselves. Maybe the proximity of the SkyTrain station will get them to venture outside their front door,” says Perry.

The street party will have music stages, beer gardens, food trucks and family fun areas scattered on Columbia. It runs from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., with street closures taking effect at 1 p.m.

The kick-off party is the Stonewall Dance at The Metro, 759 Carnarvon at Eighth Avenue, on Friday, Aug. 8 at 9 p.m. It honours the New York gay community that rioted after police raided The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in 1969, sparking the gay liberation movement.

For a full list of events go to newwestpride.ca or see the wrap in this edition of the NewsLeader.

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Community Events, October 2014

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