THE Sunshine Coast Pride Festival has teamed with internationally-renowned Eumundi Markets and Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa in a coup that will give it a new home, better visibility and extensive logistical support.
Last year the festival was held at the local university, which was not close to the major residential or business hubs, but despite this it was still reported to have over 1500 people in attendance.
However, it incurred significant costs with temporary fencing and insurances.
Eumundi Markets then stepped in, offering to share their staging, amenities and coverage under their public liability insurances, and for the event to feed off the successful market’s foot traffic. Organisers also said the added benefit was that as the markets were a significant tourist attraction, well-serviced by existing buses and train services, and extensive carpark spaces.
Eumundi Markets General Manager Peter Homan told the Star Observer that he felt Sunshine Coast Pride would bring colour to the markets and that it was also strategically important: “There is no need for fencing and there is a permanent stage. People make a day of it and come to the markets in the morning and then watch the performances from the pride festival.”
In response to how a country town would react if it became a regional mini-Mardi Gras, Homan was completely welcoming.
“I hope they do. The more colour the better. We are a very welcoming town. We don’t judge and welcome people’s differences. That is one of the things that makes Eumundi great,” he said.
Similarly, Outrigger General Manager Niel Mason, who is also a director of Tourism Noosa, believed the pride festival had social and strategic importance to his region.
“We are completely welcoming of LGBTI couples and families at the Outrigger,” he said.
“I think that the festival is an important event for Noosa. But it didn’t have a home and so we wanted to connect it to Noosa properly, so that people can make a weekend of it up here in paradise.
“Guests can book a shuttle bus to Eumundi Markets so they can drive up and leave their car here, not worry if they drink at the festival and relax and really experience the area.”
Drawing a parallel to possibly the most-lauded LGBTI-friendly town in Australia, Mason said: “Noosa is like Daylesford but by the ocean and without the freezing winters. We are both an hour and a half away from the capital city and are very well-supported by the gay community.”
With a wry smile, he added: “A 60-minute float at Stephanie’s Ocean Spa is equivalent to six hours’ sleep. Just what you need after a long night of partying.”
Sunshine Coast Pride Festival spokesman Chris Cooper said that the change of strategy and venue was going to make the event grow markedly this year and in future years.
“While we have always been a family- friendly festival, being at Eumundi Markets is just going to take the weekend to a whole new level. I could not be happier for our community,” he said.
Sunshine Coast Pride Festival is on February 21 – 23.
Miles Heffernan was the guest of the Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa in Noosa while researching this feature. The Star Observer is a proud sponsor of Sunshine Coast Pride Festival