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A fair day for diversity and fun

CAMPERDOWN: The 40th year of the Sydney Mardi Gras commenced in style with a full day of entertainment and picnicking on Sunday February 18. Returning to its home in Victoria Park, Mardi Gras Fair Day attracted more than 70,000 people.

Mardi Gras Fair Day, February 18. Photo: Ashley Asphodel
Mardi Gras Fair Day, February 18. Photo: Ashley Asphodel

Attendees enjoyed an array of performances on the main stage, browsed and shopped at over 250 stalls, sampled tasty treats, and met a variety of LGBTQI organisations. There was a sports village and fashion show.

Stalls highlighting the diversity of the LGBTQI community included the 78ers, Queer Screen, Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir, Dykes on Bikes, Gender Centre, Rainbow Families, Wett Ones Swimming Club, Sydney Roller Derby, Glitoris, Harbour City Bears, the Sydney Femme Guild, and the Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives.

Photo: Ashley Asphodel

Photo: Ashley Asphodel

The ever-popular Doggywood competition was hosted by drag legend Vanessa Wagner and her side pup Gavin, with plenty of prizes for both dogs and human companions.

The ANZ Main Stage morning program featured performances from the NSW Police Band and the Swing Out Sydney dancers. The official ceremonies started at midday, hosted by 78er and broadcaster Julie McCrossin.

Main stage on Fair Day. Photo: Ashley Asphodel

Main stage on Fair Day. Photo: Ashley Asphodel

Mardi Gras stalwarts Bob Downe and Cindy Pastel then took over proceedings, hosting an afternoon program of cabaret with performances by Shauna Jensen, Mama Alto, Greg Gould, Bogan Villea and Miss First Nations winner Josie Baker.

A later session was hosted by Jordan Raskopolous, with sets by DJs Sveta and Kate Monroe. The Seymour Centre courtyard was scene to sunset sessions, with vintage games and live music by non-binary singer-songwriter Rachel Maria Cox and Sydney three-piece Hollow States.

“Our communities shine in the sun at Fair Day,” said Creative Director Greg Clarke. “There’s something for everyone, the young and the old, the tame and the bold!”

Photo: Ashley Asphodel

Photo: Ashley Asphodel

The Mardi Gras Board issued the following statement:

“No matter whether you are joining us from near or far, your journey brings you to a place that always was and always will be Aboriginal land. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the traditional custodians of the land on which our celebrations are held, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. Our history as a community and as an organisation is remarkable and this year we look back and celebrate 40 Years of Evolution. At our events, including Fair Day, Queer Thinking, Parade and Party, we will revel in a brighter future as we remember and rejoice in everything that has brought us to where we are today … The past year has been incredibly hard for members of our community. Our events are spaces to come together and support each other, reach out and make new connections and nurture those we love. We especially welcome those among us who face additional barriers; young people, First Nations people, the trans community and our LGBTQI elders. In 2018 the whole world will be watching Sydney and we invite you to share in this journey. No matter whether you are joining us for the first time or for the 40th, this promises to be an unforgettable Festival. You are part of our history and you are part of our future.”

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