Coast Out, Coffs Harbour’s first ever gay and lesbian festival, will be held in various locations around the area on october 29, 30 and 31. Coffs Harbour’s Deputy Mayor, Denise Knight, has been involved with organising the event from the very beginning. She stops by to tell us more about the festival and explains why everyone, gay or straight, should get involved.
> Coast Out is Coffs Harbour’s first gay and lesbian festival. How did this initiative come about?
Coast Out came about from a visit to the Coffs Coast by Joe Hockey. He thought that the area needed a new and unique festival, so everyone threw their ideas around to come up with a new festival for the region.
Councillor Kerry Hines and I thought that a gay and lesbian festival would be just the ticket, so we put it in the local paper, alongside other ideas from the community members, and we received a wonderful response.
Following that, I received a call from Todd Buttery expressing his interest in helping to organise the event, and together we approached the Development Department of the Coffs Harbour City Council. The festival ticked all the boxes, and a sponsorship deal from Council came about from that.
> There’s going to be something for everyone at this festival. Tell us about some of the events and venues.
Most of the outdoor events will be held at Park Beach and the Jetty Shores, and Pacific Bay has come on board as a venue as well. We will incorporate surrounding areas on tours and all our local tourist hotspots.
There’s going to be all kinds of activities and entertainment. There’ll be music, art, sports and even a special Fair Day.
The festival will open with a Welcome Cocktail Party at Pacific Bay. The beach carnival at Jetty Beach will incorporate Australia’s first ever gay and lesbian Iron Man, along with a handbag and tool belt tossing competition.
Coast Out will also be holding a tea dance, Australia’s first gay and lesbian surf competition, barefoot bowls and much much more.
> Tickets to the event will also include free bus travel?
Anyone who purchases a ticket to Coast Out is able to jump on the event’s free bus around town. It’s handy for anyone who is a spectator or family member and for those who don’t want to participate in the many games of the festival.
The bus will take people on a tour of the Coffs Coast and show locals and visitors some of the fabulous sights, attractions and facilities that make our region so special.
> The festival is not only for gay and lesbians; heterosexuals can get involved as well …
Yes, we will be encouraging everyone to get involved – locals, visitors, gays, lesbians and heterosexuals. We want this event to bring all kinds of people together to meet new people, participate in some great activities and generally just have a good time.
I might even have a go at the handbag toss myself!
> How do you think this event will help unite the community?
The Coffs Coast is a wonderful part of the world, and we have a wonderful accepting community. To embrace everyone, no matter who they are, is something I have no doubt we can do as a community.
We also want to share our city with people from all walks of life and display our friendly city, where the mountains meet the sea.
> What are you most looking forward to about the festival?
To see an event come from one single idea and grow to a fantastic event which embraces everyone here will, for me, be the highlight.
Also, I think the handbag throwing contest will have to be seen and experienced to be believed.
> Where do readers find out more and obtain tickets?
Our website is the best guide to tickets, activities and what’s on and where. Visit www.coastout.com.au
> Thank you Denise.