Questions raised about Amherstburg's True Festival

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Some questions are being raised about Amherstburg's True Festival.

On Monday, administration asked council to approve road closures and waive the noise bylaw for the one-day event.

In a 3-2 vote, council voted in favour of the recommendations but some issues were raised about the event from a couple of councillors.

Councillors Peter Courtney and Diane Pouget voted against the recommendations and said they heard from residents who are concerned with the drag queen portion of the event.  They also heard concerns about the town providing funding for the event.

During his remarks, councillor Courtney asked town staff if drag queens need to be part of the event.

"I posed the question to a couple of friends and family and there's mixed messaging on it but the bottom line is, it seems sort of on the risque side of entertainment," says Courtney.

He says certain members of the community will not attend the festival because they have young children and they feel it's not proper.

"When we promote all of our festivals as inclusive and we get something like what we say drag queens being males dressed as females and dressed provocatively, I guess what's the benefit versus not doing it," he says.  "What is the benefit to have drag queens participate in the True Fest which is true to one self, I totally get that but is that an inclusive item."    

Town CAO Valerie Critchley says the drag queen portion of the event is a form of entertainment.

"It is vetted by the tourism staff so that the performers that perform are family friendly," says Critchley.  "I know you referenced provocative clothing and that type of thing, I was there myself, I didn't find it to be that way and I found it all to be in very good taste."

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(Photo Credit: Courtesy the True Festival)

Councillor Pouget says she received numerous calls and emails from angry and upset residents.

"Council never once agreed to spend taxpayers money on drag queens and to advertise it as a family affair," says Pouget.  "People found it very offensive and I give Councillor Courtney a lot of credit for bringing this up."

Critchley says the town feels the drag queen portion of the event is an important part of the festival. 

"It's a diverse form of entertainment and that's what the festival is representing," says Critchley.

The event is slated to take place on Saturday January 27.

Council is expected to discuss funding for the event during 2024 budget deliberations.

The outdoor winter festival features live entertainment, drag queen performances, a dance party, and celebrates Amherstburg’s diversity and inclusivity.

The town welcomes everyone to attend.