Bendigo Pride Festival to return in March after COVID-19 cancelled 2020 event

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Bendigo’s Pride Festival will return in March after this year’s event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Festival director John Richards said it had been scheduled for March 12 to 28.

“After being a year now of not being able to run these sorts of events, just to know that anything is coming back has got people thrilled,” Mr Richards said.

“There’s always that fear that we’re hit with another wave, we’re just working out which events can and can’t go ahead this time round.”

Mr Richards said the postponement of Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival from January to April meant Bendigo’s Pride would be the first festival in Victoria to return.

He said a yet-to-be-announced act would be premiering in Bendigo.

A group of people holding pride posters
The organising committee had to abandon this year’s festival just days before it was to start.(Supplied: Bendigo Pride Festival)

Weaving the technicolour ‘tapestry’

Mr Richards has been involved with the festival since its inaugural edition in 2019.

“The first Pride Festival was excellent but quite a boutique event; the second one was going to be a huge event,” he said.

“We had to cancel it on the Monday before it started.

“It turns out cancelling an event takes about the same amount of time as it takes to organise one — it was quite grim.”

But for the LGBTQIA+ community, the opportunity to celebrate identity is rooted in struggle.

“Even now, being queer in a regional or rural area, there’s a certain invisibility that can come from that, and events like this let the community know we’re here,” Mr Richards said.

“Obviously there are still things like mental health issues that tend to be worse among the LGBTQIA+ community.

“It’s part of our contribution to the tapestry of life here.”

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