MARDI GRAS: The Gemfields weekend celebration begins this Friday.
MARDI GRAS: The Gemfields weekend celebration begins this Friday.

Celebrating the colours of the Gemfields

WILLOW had such a successful Mardi-Gras-like celebration for his birthday last year, he decided to make it an annual event.

He called the Gemfields Mardi-Gras, on show this weekend, a celebration of a diverse, supportive community.

Willow, the event’s organiser, moved to the area in the 1970s and said it was largely a homophobic space to grow up in, but it has since improved.

“The Gemfields is a broad space now, a very accepting area with an open mind,” he said.

Wanda D’Parke will be the headline guest, and Willow will partake as Heidi Hole, dressed in pink from top to toe.

Willow said he wants to establish a base of support for the LGBTI community.

“A lot of the younger ones don’t have much of an outlet,” he said.

“I’m hugely aware of the broader importance of this, so I want people to know there’s a safe space to come if they need assistance and a community not too far away that can be a source of help or friendship.”

The festival will commence this Friday night with an auction and entertainment at the Rubyvale New Royal Hotel at 7pm to raise funds for the Leukaemia Foundation.

At 4pm on Saturday, participants will meet at Pats Gems Fossicking Park before marching to the RSL about 5.30pm. A dinner show will follow.

On Sunday the New Royal will host a game of ‘blingo,’ described by Willow as “drag bingo with a twist”, in aid of CQ Pet Rescue.

He hopes to expand the event in future by building numbers and interest, and perhaps by incorporating a pride day.

Book your spot in the parade or register interest as a spectator by getting in touch with Willow on 0438 973 333.

“The whole Central Highlands community is more than welcome to join us to celebrate Mardi Gras and our diversity.

“Based on last year, it will be very colourful — the crazier, the better.”