Pride month is officially here! Running the entirety of June, many communities across Canada will be taking part in nationwide celebrations to celebrate diversity and LGBTQ+ communities.

Kicking off the month is the first-ever Together with Pride Street Festival on June 4 from noon to 8 p.m.

Tom Barker, co-chair of Okotoks Pride, has been busy planning and preparing for a month's worth of events for residents of all walks of life to take part in. 

Barker is excited for the community to come together for the events.

"They are family-friendly, as is the festival. A lot of these will be all-ages events. We have things happening all through the month. Almost every week there are queer events."

This isn't the first pride-themed event to hit Okotoks. The Foothills Rainbow Connection held a smaller event in Ethel Tucker Park in 2017. A success, but nothing to the scale of this year's extravaganza. 

Having grown up in the community, Barker knows this is a humongous step forward for inclusivity and human understanding. 

"Growing up here, you never really got to see people like me on a, you know, visual level. We had a select few, but they weren't necessarily out or they weren't doing a lot of community involvement. So it's really cool that we get to do it and to have the town of Okotoks on board now helping us out, getting us permits that we needed. They've been really great to work with. 

"We've had a lot of receptive community members come back to us and say 'this is so cool. We can't wait to support.'"

Barker is impressed with the growth he and others have seen within the community as a whole.

"Over the years it’s become this really progressive place where people can walk down the street holding hands. They can attend festivals and nobody really bats an eye. Of course, there's things that do still happen and have happened recently. However, it's just been great to see the community really come together and rally behind their queer community. It really shows our community that Okotoks is a great place for queer people to be and it is a welcoming place... I'm glowing about it.” 

The town will be closing off sections of the downtown with the road closed on Elizabeth St. from Veterans to Elks Ave.

"Within the festival grounds, there's going to be some food trucks and some entertainment all day long on the stage. We also will have a kids zone and there's a market happening with about 20 vendors."

They are excited to close down the day with a celebration of local entertainers. 

"There is a massive a grand finale drag show happening on the main stage at 6 p.m. on Saturday and we're encouraging everybody to bring your chairs, bring your blankets. Come ‘pull up some street’ and watch the show. 

"It's going to be amazing. There are a lot of local entertainers. They'll be local entertainers all through the day, but the show is hosted by 'Shane On You,' a local drag king.” 

The event takes place downtown on June 4.

More information can be found on their Facebook.

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