After delays, Ferndale Pride to return Oct. 2 for 10th year

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 25, 2021

 After a long hiatus, Ferndale Pride will make its return to the downtown on Saturday, Oct. 2, for its 10th annual festival.

After a long hiatus, Ferndale Pride will make its return to the downtown on Saturday, Oct. 2, for its 10th annual festival.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

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FERNDALE — One of the biggest festivals to take place in downtown Ferndale will return after a long hiatus.

Making its return after last year’s cancelation due to COVID-19, Ferndale Pride will take place in the heart of the downtown from 1 to 10 p.m. near West Nine Mile Road and Woodward Avenue on Saturday, Oct. 2.

The 10th annual festival, which usually occurs in June in coordination with Pride Month, was delayed to October to allow organizers a chance to plan the event and give more people the chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Though organizers have been planning for the Oct. 2 date for several months, it wasn’t until the Sept. 13 City Council meeting where they got the official approval. They also had to deal with the stress of not knowing if the state would close down at any point if there was another spike in coronavirus cases.

Event Chair Julia Music said they’ve been proceeding as if the state would be open the entire time, but planning has been hard, as it’s felt like everything has been at a standstill for a long time.

“Many businesses were just unsure about what their future held, and we are a business-sponsored event to keep it free to the public,” she said. “Then all of a sudden, it was like everyone was back in motion, and it went from extremely slow to extremely fast. It was just a different pacing than normal. Also the summer just works out a little bit different for people with their work schedules.”

The festival’s footprint will take over West Nine Mile from Woodward to Livernois Street. It will hold 187 booths of vendors, nonprofits and sponsors showcasing the LGBTQ community. There also will be two outdoor stages for musical acts, and one of the stages will hold weddings in the downtown beginning at 1:30 p.m.

In terms of wellness, there will be on-site sexually transmitted infection testing; free COVID-19 vaccinations; and open discussion groups for those struggling with alcohol, drug, sex and technology addictions throughout the day outdoors.

Though some events that have happened in 2021 were forced to adapt and change their footprints or change aspects of their festivals, Music said Pride didn’t have to change much outside of moving things from certain locations, such as moving weddings outdoors to one of the stages.

“We made sure all of the things that are conducted by Pride are gonna happen outside,” she said. Music later added that there will be one stage inside of 215 West.

“In past years, we’ve had some events inside of Affirmations. This year, like our interfaith prayer service that happens the Wednesday before, we’ll be outside in Schiffer Park. So we did have to rent some more park space, but the rest of it, because it’s outdoors, is pretty similar. We’re upping the amount of hand sanitizer we have throughout the event footprint, but other than that, because it’s outside, we are able to keep it similar to years past.”

Mayor Melanie Piana said that not having events last year felt very different, that she knew the community supported health first and doing the right thing, and that many Ferndale event organizers were looking at how to reschedule to the best time so they didn’t have to skip another year.

“I’m glad that the city was able to accommodate the event organizers to make the event happen, and I know all the organizers are trying to make it a very safe event for everybody who comes,” she said.

Piana added that she’s glad Pride is coming back to Ferndale.

“Ferndale Pride really contributes to the sense of community,” she said. “Ferndale Pride is an event that celebrates people being themselves. … We’re just really glad that it’s coming back and that people can come and enjoy and have a family-friendly event and spend time in our downtown, but also spend time with their friends and family in a safe environment.”

The last time Pride was held was June 1, 2019. After October’s festival, it will go back to its originally scheduled month of June for 2022.

Music said she’s feeling the same amount of nerves she normally feels in the lead up to the big day Oct. 2.

“I want everything to be perfect and I know that that is a tall order,” she said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to do it right.”

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