The Jasper Pride Festival has quickly grown from a small event organized by a few passionate individuals to one of the most anticipated celebrations in both Jasper and Alberta. With plenty of events and parties throughout the festival, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. This year marks the festival’s ten year anniversary, so we wanted to take a look back at how it began, and how it’s grown throughout the years.
It All Started With a Sticker
When Lynn Wannop bought Coco’s cafe a little over ten years ago, she decided to put a rainbow sticker on the door to show her support for the LGBTQ community. To her shock and disappointment, the sticker was ripped down shortly after. Instead of discouraging Lynn, this event only motivated her to find new ways to promote her cause. Soon after, she approached Jordan Tucker about organizing a local pride festival. It just so happened that Jordan, an employee at Mountain Park Lodges, had been talking with colleagues about organizing a pride festival himself. The timing seemed perfect and a committee made up of local business owners and non-profits was assembled to move the event forward.
Embraced by the Community
The festival has continued to grow each year since its inception and has been fully embraced by both individuals and local businesses in the Jasper community. It’s hard not to feel pride when walking through town, nearly every shop window is busting with colourful and impressive displays welcoming the festival and it’s attendees. Despite the size of the Jasper Pride Festival, it’s held on to its small-town roots. The event is a close-knit celebration where old acquaintances are reunited and new friends are made each year. Supporters include people from all walks of life with individuals, families, teens and more continuing to show up in large numbers each year.
Supporters include people from all walks of life with individuals, families, teens and more continuing to show up in large numbers each year. The festival owes a great deal to the grassroots movement started by locals who are passionate
about both LGBTQ rights, as well as promoting the community of Jasper as a place for people to visit and enjoy. The amazing local support is a big reason why we are able to enjoy the Jasper Pride Festival we know and love today.
From Small Beginnings to Big-Time Festival
Ten years after it first began, the event is one of the largest celebrations that Jasper holds each year and has become the third largest pride festival in all of Alberta. The event has received press outside of Jasper, with members of the LGBTQ community and allies coming from far and wide to take in the festivities. The four-day event has become a symbol in the town of how everyone, no matter their background or lifestyle, is welcome here. That attitude has extended beyond the festival and helped grow a feeling of inclusiveness that the people of Jasper are extremely proud of. The festival’s slogan of “Proud and Free” started as a theme for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. The statement was such a true representation of Jasper Pride that it became the overarching brand for the festival, and something to promote and celebrate year after year. Being Proud & Free in Jasper isn’t just recognized one weekend of the year. Thanks to the awareness and positivity the event has encouraged, Jasper spreads this message year-round, making this small community a beacon of LGBTQ support and freedom. As Jasper Pride continues to establish itself as a destination festival, the Pride Society decided it was time to give the look and feel of the festival the love it deserves. Being in one of the most beautiful locations in the world, they wanted to capture the essence of Jasper into the brand. The newly incorporated coloured, geometric, mountain-like shapes reflect the pride in who [we] are and where [we] are from. The new snowflake symbol embodies the beauty that surrounds us as a northern town and the unique nature of what it is the Pride Festival represents. We hope you love it as much as we do!
Something for Everyone
The Jasper Pride Festival has grown to include over 20 events, with activities for kids and teens, unique events, and amazing nightlife spread across four unforgettable days. The 2019 festival begins on Thursday, April 25, at 12 PM with the raising of the pride flag. That’s followed by the official Kick-Off party at 6:30 PM. Other exciting events happening throughout the weekend include: The Pride Beer Launch, Pride Ski, Jasper Teen Pride, the Fruit Loop Mountain Party,
the Pride Burlesque and Dance Show, and the Fork & Spoon Mini Food Festival. Jasper Pride also features performances by the comedy duo of Ryan and Amy, and slam poet/folk singer Kate Reid. Visit Jasper Pride’s website for a full listing of this year’s Jasper Pride Festival events. Can’t make it to the festival? There is a great lineup of activities that Jasper offers year round. Check out the full list of experiences available at https://www.jasper.travel/things-to-do/ or
New Location for the Signature Pride Party
Each year a theme is selected for the Signature Pride Party. For years, this event was held at the beautiful Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. The themed party (previously known as the Gala) invites attendees to create costumes based on the theme, and the night is filled with amazing energy and positive vibes. Last year the party moved locations. We know this came as a shock to those who had become accustomed to the ambiance of the Jasper Park Lodge. The reason for the move, the party had reached maximum capacity at the Fairmont and found that year after year, they were quickly selling out of tickets for the event. Not that they are complaining, this is an amazing problem to have. They were having to turn people away as there was simply no room for them to come in. The festival is all about inclusion. With that in mind, they needed a new home for the Signature Pride Party. Last year was the first year in a while that the party was held at the Jasper Activity Centre. From 2011 to 2013, the Signature Pride Party was held in one of their smaller event spaces. When we outgrew that space, we moved to the Jasper Park Lodge. Taking over the larger space in the Jasper Activity Centre, the festival was able to increase their capacity for guests and offer a teen-only area, which is near and dear to their hearts. As it continues to grow and evolve as a festival, they hope to continue to bring our guests the best that Jasper has to offer. We can’t wait to celebrate 10 amazing years with the Jasper Pride Festival Society and all of the attendees. The theme of this year’s Jasper Pride Festival is the Proud Peaks National Derby. The theme is regal, fun, and over-the-top. Participants are encouraged to arrive in attire inspired by the 1920s, or the boldest derby look they can muster. Prizes are awarded for Best Costume, Most Creative Costume, Best Hat, and Craftiest Hat. Whatever you’re looking for during the Jasper Pride Festival, you’re sure to find something to suit your fancy.
Join Us This Year!
This year’s festival takes place from April 25 - 28. Visit the festival’s website jasperpride.ca for more details. Most events are free to attend, and there are plenty of volunteer opportunities available for those who are interested in helping with the event. Come out, make some new friends, and have a great time!