Ferndale Pride moves to later in 2021 as city evaluates holding events

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

 Becky Wyatt and Paul Hegedüs take in Ferndale Pride in 2019 after participating in the Rainbow Run earlier that day.

Becky Wyatt and Paul Hegedüs take in Ferndale Pride in 2019 after participating in the Rainbow Run earlier that day.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

 The Pig & Whiskey festival, which usually happens during the summer, will look to hold its event in the fall as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pig & Whiskey festival, which usually happens during the summer, will look to hold its event in the fall as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

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FERNDALE — Ferndale Pride, one of the biggest events held in Oakland County, once again will not be held in June this year.

According to organizers, Pride, the massive celebration of the LGBTQ community that’s held each year in the city, originally was scheduled for June 5 but will now occur Oct. 2.

Ferndale Pride has not been held since 2019. It originally was scheduled for May 30 last year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was initially postponed to September before being canceled.

Though the coronavirus vaccine continues to be rolled out, event chair Julia Music said that it’s just not fast enough to say June would be a safe date to gather thousands of people.

“That kind of gave us the thought that we need to push it back, because we really don’t want to cancel again,” she said.

Music said there’s a tremendous amount of work to try to move an event of Pride’s scale. This includes dealing with on-street vendors who sell goods during the festival and vendors whom organizers use for tents, sound and stage equipment.

“All of that gets shifted, and so we really would like to try to give a solid, firm date, but as the vaccine just seems to be getting like 1% of the people every couple weeks, it’s just a very slow process,” she said.

Pride organizers worked with the city to determine a new date for the event. According to city officials, no special events are being considered until the end of May. Even then, whether or not the events will happen will be up to the City Council on a month-to-month basis.

Director of Special Events Michael Lary said the city is taking applications from organizers so that they can set a date, but as they get closer to the events, the city will review the applications, and the events will be subject to council’s approval.

“We’re being optimistic that things are going to get better, but the question really is when,” he said. “We’re still gonna accept applications for consideration, but the final approval will be based on a month-to-month basis. It will also be determined on … guidance from the (Michigan) Department of Health and Human Services.”

Those approvals will depend on the type of event being held, with Lary adding that some events are small enough that social distancing and mask requirements would be easier to implement versus an event that gathers 10,000 people, such as Ferndale Pride.

Most summer and fall events that happen in Ferndale have remained on their scheduled days, such as the city’s Dream Cruise weekend Aug. 19-21 and the Funky Ferndale Art Fair and DIY Street Fair Sept 24-26. Two notable events that have been moved to later this year are the aforementioned Ferndale Pride and the Pig & Whiskey Festival, which was moved to Oct. 29-31.

“They’re all outside events, so that’s one advantage, but then there’s the next step, and that is what do we do if an event is normally or typically a crowded event because it’s so popular?” Lary said. “We have to consider that, but we’re going to consider that as we go along month-to-month and, hopefully, due to the distribution of vaccine, that things are going to get better each and every month.”

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