City News

Mardi Gras Fair Day embraced again following COVID cancellation

Fair Day returned last weekend following its cancellation last year. Photo: Facebook.

By DANIEL LO SURDO

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras season kicked off last weekend as Victoria Park welcomed 35,000 people to the Fair Day celebrations after the event was cancelled last year following COVID-19 concerns.

The event ran on Sunday, with live performances, specialty bars and over 200 community stalls on offer to patrons during the day.

City of Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore, who attended Fair Day, called the event a “celebration of the diversity of our Sydney community, and of the LGBTIQ community”.

“Diversity is the life-blood of cities – it brings richness, stimulus, excitement, and opportunity and this community exemplifies all those things, and it provides a valuable lesson in inclusiveness,” Cr Moore told¬†City Hub.

Chief executive of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Albert Kruger said that the event had an “incredible turn out of people and the vibe on the day was one of celebration, connection and community”, adding that “you could really feel that the community had missed Fair Day”.

The event comes after the City of Sydney held its annual flag-raising ceremony at Town Hall last Friday, to mark the beginning of the Mardi Gras season.

Instead of hoisting the LGBT rainbow flag in the city, the Progress Pride flag, which includes a five-colour chevron onto the rainbow flag to represent trans people, LGBTIQ communities of colour, and those affected by or who have passed away from the AIDS disease, was raised for the Mardi Gras season, following a decision by the City of Sydney in September to “visually celebrate” and support its LGBTQIA+ communities. The Progress Pride Flag will also now fly permanently at Taylor Square.

“Mardi Gras has always spelt resilience, solidarity and optimism, and those are qualities we all need to draw on in this coming year,” Cr Moore said.

“Fair Day provides us with opportunities to learn from the struggles that brought us to this point and to catch up with friends … to enjoy great entertainment and to reflect on how best we can achieve a richly varied and inclusive city.”

Historic day

Last Sunday’s Fair Day was found to be one of the largest attendances on record. This year, the event featured a First Nations Circle, which included Aboriginal community and business tents.

Fair Day began 40 years ago in Surry Hills as a small queer family picnic organised by the Gay Business Alliance, before being moved to Victoria Park in 1997. The Mardi Gras Parade will take place at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 5, with the party cancelled this year following COVID-19 concerns.

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