September 28, 2022

360 MAGAZINE – 360 MAGAZINE

Thousands of people are expected to flock to the very first Chase Pride Festival next month for a star-studded day of celebration and entertainment.

Around 4,000 people are expected at Hednesford Park on Saturday September 3 for the event which will celebrate diversity, support the local LGBTQ+ community and break down barriers.

festival director Catherine Downs said more than a thousand tickets have already been sold for the event, which promises a jam-packed day of fun and activities for all, including a rainbow parade.

Main performers include RuPaul’s Drag Race star Cheryl Holeaward-winning cabaret artist Danny Beard and reality TV star woody cook.

Alongside them will appear personalities such as George Windsor and Amrick Channaboth former competitors of the X factor, Georgia Braywhich wowed The Voice judges, local singers Rox C and Ruby J and many more.

There will also be performances by local bands including Crystal Dance Academy and Brownhills Musical Theater Company.

Katherine said: “There will be two stages – the Main Stage and the Community Stage – and there is a full lineup of brilliant entertainment for everyone.

“There will also be around 40 stalls offering merchants, community services and more. One of the highlights will certainly be the parade. There will be lots of bright costumes, music, dancing and of course banners and whistles. We have around 200 people participating, including One Stop Stores sponsors, Glaamazon, local schools, local businesses, police cadets and scouts. It will be fantastic.

“Back in the park we will also have the fun dog show Paws of Pride hosted by the Hall Green Greyhound Trust. We expect to see plenty of pampered pooches on their best behavior!

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and there will also be a funfair, food and a licensed bar. Kathryn added that there would also be a few “side” events, with the Friends of Hednesford Park hosting children’s entertainment with magic chaos and the Cannock Chase Museum host an exhibition titled LGBTQ Voices, by artist Walsall Kathy O’Connor. There will also be a screening of The Greatest Showman in the park the night before, September 2, but it’s already sold out.

Kathryn said: “We are delighted with the support we are receiving. Our main sponsors are McArthurGlen Designer Outlet West Midlands and One Stop Stores who both sponsor stages.

“We received two grants, one from National Lottery Community Fundand one of the Arnold Clark Community Fund.

“We have received many other supports, including free services, and are extremely grateful to organizations such as Aggreko and HSS for their support.

David Jackson, center director at McArthurGlen outlet said: “We are proud to support Cannock’s premier Pride Festival which is an integral part of the local community. As champions of diversity and inclusivity, we can’t wait to see everyone come together to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and enjoy a lively day of fun.

The event was originally due to be held in 2020 but Covid saw it cancelled. Last year there was too much uncertainty, so it was rescheduled for 2022. “It took a lot of work, but we have a strong and dedicated committee to chasing the pride and a host of volunteers who have all worked very hard to make it a reality,” said Kathryn, a former city councillor.

“We encountered some opposition, mainly those who misunderstand what we are trying to do. Some people think it’s council funded and say there are better things to spend, but it’s not. There are a lot of unconscious biases.

“There have been three complaints and a few comments on social media from people who think we are exposing families and children to a sexualized environment. But nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a fun family event for everyone.

“These complaints are a very small minority compared to all the tickets sold so far and the support we have received. The number of people who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community who have purchased tickets is very heartening; L he alliance is as important to changing hearts and minds locally as the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community.

“We just want Pride to benefit. We have a big LGBTQ+ community in the area, but there are not many safe spaces where people can be themselves and socialize without fear. Cannock Chase has traditionally not been the easiest community for people, there are still a lot of prejudices to overcome.

“We started Chase Pride to solve this problem and create a sense of community and a network where people can feel safe to be themselves.

“Since the start, we have received messages from members of the LGBTQ+ community who feel alone and isolated living in the neighborhood; they may not be able to be themselves or “hang out” at home, but we gave them a way to connect with like-minded people and feel part of the community. »

Katherine said chasing the pride is planned to be an annual event, moving through the neighborhood. Next year it should be held at Rugeley and the following year at Cannock.

“The local businesses in the district have been fantastic in supporting us, including Gregory Bryant at Rugeley, who raised over £300 on their own, and other independent businesses in Hednesford, Cannock and Rugeley, who sold us rainbow shoelaces to raise funds.

“We see that this goodwill now extends to other areas as well,” she added. “We already have a positive effect and we want to develop it even more.”

For more details and to purchase tickets, visit HERE.