BEATRICE FANTONI, WINDSOR STAR
Windsor Pride and the new stand-alone festival committee, Windsor-Essex Pride Fest, announced a new $210,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to host a bigger and better annual pride party.
With more than 5,000 people attending the weekend festival in past years, the festival organizers decided to spin off from Windsor Pride into a separate organizing body to run the festival from now on.
The 2012 edition, which will run from Aug. 9-12, includes a new “Friday Night Out” event with live music at the riverfront, a family activity day on Saturday afternoon, and some new night entertainment on the new waterfront stage including aerial acrobats.
The Sunday pride parade remains, of course.
David Lenz, president of Windsor-Essex Pride Fest Inc. said they want to keep running events periodically throughout the fall and winter to keep promoting Windsor-Essex as an LGBTQ-friendly tourist destination.
The grant from the province – which will last for two years – helped the festival organizers with re-branding and building a new website.
At the announcement on Wednesday, Gordon Orr, president of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island, said LGBTQ tourism can be a real boon for the region. Spending in North America last year in LGBTQ tourism was in the range of $73 billion, Orr said, so it would be foolish to ignore the opportunities.
Orr said TWEPI will work actively with Windsor-Essex Pride Fest to keep developing new tourism initiatives to appeal to the LGBTQ market.
Liberal MPP Teresa Piruzza echoed the statement, saying the annual pride festival and parade helps bring people to Windsor and the area.
“The festival will raise awareness and recognition of Windsor-Essex as a welcoming home to the LGBTQ community,” Piruzza said.