Nova Scotia

‘It makes me feel very hopeful’: Ingo Beach Pride back for a second year in Cape Breton

A queer music festival celebrating Pride in a small Cape Breton community is back and bigger than ever in its second year.

Ingo Beach Pride is a three-day festival of music, drag and more, featuring performances from musicians like Ria Mae and Ralph, and drag queens like Lemon, a standout on Canada’s Drag Race.

It kicked off Friday with a performance by renowned fiddler Ashley MacIsaac, a songwriters’ circle and an after-party at Keltic Lodge.

According to festival director Sara Bryden, the whole community came together for the event, which ends on Sunday with a drag softball tournament. 

“Everyone has really opened up,” Bryden said. “The local businesses have been very supportive, we have Progress [Pride flags] hanging all around Ingonish.”

Moved back home

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Bryden was a long way from her hometown, working a corporate job in Toronto  and dreaming of the beach. 

She got in her car and drove straight through to Ingonish, where her father had a home, and the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Breton Highlands National Park were calling. 

It was a temporary visit, but Bryden soon decided to make it permanent after stumbling into a wonderful queer community and rediscovering her East Coast roots.

“The friends that I met right off the bat were part of the queer community,” she said Saturday, the second day of the Ingonish festival.

Bryden has a background in marketing and soon began putting on a regular concert series on Cape Breton.

After a conversation with Breagh Isabel, a Halfax-based musician who grew up in Sydney, she realized there were more than enough queer performers in the province to lead a festival. 

See also  Wolastoqey fishers say proposed elver fishery shutdown infringes on treaty rights

Last year’s was a success, and Bryden said it helped drive word of mouth that has led to an even bigger festival this time around.

“A lot of people said last year was like going to queer camp,” she said.

“You meet a bunch of new friends, you’re in nature, hanging out at the beach, and then going to see some live music and sitting around the campfire after.”

A different era 

For Isabel, performing at Ingo Beach Pride has been a revelation.

“It makes me feel very hopeful,” she said. “When I was growing up in Cape Breton, there were no Pride parades, or anything like that.”

Times have changed, however, and she said the town has embraced the festival.

“It’s amazing to see when you’re driving up the Cabot Trail and coming into town, all the small businesses have little Pride flags on them,” she said. “It’s beautiful to see that community support.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button