Fraser Valley Pride is less about showing off, and more about celebrating everyone for who they are, say organizers.
The event will be hosted in Mission’s Fraser River Heritage Park on July 16 for the first time. From noon until 8 p.m., there will be drumming, speeches, a march, vendors, food trucks, music, a drag show, and more.
“People (may) think we’re just coming out there to wave flags and be seen, but it’s about celebrating who we are,” said Lisa Doerksen, president of the Fraser Valley Youth Society (FVYS).
“It’s about us showing love and inclusion.”
The City of Mission has welcomed the event “with open arms,” Doerksen said, noting the challenges the 10th annual show had with site planning.
FVYS pulled the event out of Abbotsford’s Jubilee Park on short notice after nine years, with the organizers citing a dispute with the city over safety requirements, and the city citing capacity issues.
But Doerksen said they’ve had an eye on Mission for a couple years, as the local youth group here accounts for a high amount of drop-ins.
She said while no decisions have been made yet, Fraser Valley Pride could become an annual event in Heritage Park.
“We’re pretty excited actually, it’s a beautiful park,” Doerksen said. “We feel like it could be a permanent move.”
Past events in Abbotsford have brought out between 1,100 and 1,200 people at a time during stage performances, but Doerksen said she’s hoping this year the event will be even bigger.
She said the 2022 event is organized in collaboration with the Mission Arts Council – and there is a lot of buzz.
The drag show is being organized by Shane Stark, also known by the drag name, Anida. Stark’s been performing drag for 10 years, and organizes bi-monthly, sold-out drag shows in Matsqui. Each show donates money to the FVYS.
As a person of Metis and Ojibwe heritage, and with a physical disability, Stark says the most important part of a drag show for him is being proud of yourself as an individual.
“Just love everyone equally,” he said.
Stark said in the last five or six years, drag shows have really grown in popularity in the Fraser Valley.
A lot of credit is given to the reality T.V. show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, but Stark likes to think the local shows have had a similar effect.
Stark’s even performing at Agrifair 2022 with some RuPaul queens.
He never would have imagined, when he came out as gay at 19-years-old, that there would be inclusive spaces in the B.C.’s “Bible Belt.”
“Having a show that’s as popular as it is here in the Fraser Valley, it’s mind boggling,” Stark said.
Drag shows are often assumed to be “just a bunch of dudes dressed in women’s clothing,” he said, but after almost every show, men come up to say how glad they are that their girlfriends brought them along.
“They really realize the actual artistry that goes into drag,” Stark said. “There’s a whole persona that goes behind it, and there’s comedy, live dancing and live singing.
“The more people that come, the more people go, ‘Wow, this is actually awesome.’”
The July 16 show will feature 10 to 11 drag queens.