What started as a few friends planning to get together to watch the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Mardi Gras has turned into an ongoing event.
Building on the recent success of Hay’s Rainbow on the Plains Festival – its own version of Mardi Gras – the organisers have announced plans are already in full swing for next year.
The weekend saw over 400 marched in the street parade on Saturday afternoon, with 370 turning out for a huge party later the same evening.
Rainbow on the Plains committee member Kerri Mijok said she was “on a huge high” for days after the event. In her eyes, it had exceeded all expectations.
“It was such an amazing event. It was so much bigger than what we could have ever anticipated. I’ve never experienced so much love in my whole life,” she said.
“There was absolutely no negative aspects of the event. I just hope we can have more in the same vein.”
A date has already been set for next year’s event. The festival will run from March 29 to 31 so as not to coincide with any other major events.
Businesses along Hay’s main drag in Lachlan Street joined in the fun too. Residents lined the street to see the parade go past.
To say we (organisers Kerri Mijok, Kerry Aldred, Liam Davies, Lyn Hunt and myself) are overwhelmed with the support shown is an understatement,” the committee said.
“Hay’s business houses have decorated shop windows and created special rainbow products or promotions. People lined the length of Lachlan Street and cheered loudly for Saturdays parade.”
The original vision for the event was a viewing party for the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade. Once a committee formed, things kept moving forward.
Committee Member Krista Schade said the weekend grew from what was initially just a gathering of friends.
“It has been incredible. This is not at all what we first expected. We thought we’d have 80 people gathering to watch the 40th Sydney parade – but it grew in leaps and bounds,” Ms Schade said.
Ms Mijok said the festival had also contributed to Hay’s local economy.
“It’s not only about the support for the youth and adults in the town, but it’s about local business as well. They get something out of it with all of the traffic that flows through town,” she said.
“I’ve heard almost all the motels were fully booked out. People come into town and spend money. It benefits everyone.”
All proceeds from the event went to Hay CanAssist.