Biggest, best Ottawa Family Pride Fest expected in year 3

Mission turns to fundraising, creating a community center for LGBTQ community

A new addition to this year's Ottawa's Family Pride Festival was the John Fisher Dann Memorial Pride Parade. The parade kicked off Ottawa Family Pride Festival activities as it traveled down La Salle Street in downtown Ottawa on Saturday, June 10, 2023.

Ottawa Family Pride Fest organizer Dylan Conmy is on a mission to raise $1 million by the end of summer to create an LGBTQ community center.

Saturday’s daylong, family-friendly festival, expected to attract 10,000 visitors to Ottawa, will go a long way toward reaching that goal.

“Since year one of the festival, I’ve heard an intense response – from emails, from Facebook – we need more resources in the area,” Conmy said. “We want to create a safe space for the LGBTQ community to find information, work out, [and] host events and meetings.

“This project will save lives.”

Marchers in the John Fisher Dann Memorial Pride Parade hand out treats to spectators during the Ottawa Family Pride Festival on Saturday, June 10, 2023.

Proceeds from merchandise sales, raffles, a meet-and-greet event and a 50/50 drawing will go to the $1 million fundraising goal for the community center, along with assisting the Youth Outlook Drop-In Center in Ottawa.

The 2024 festival, now in its third year, is shaping up to be the biggest yet, featuring more than 110 vendors, Conmy said.

Events will kick off at 10 a.m. from Washington Square with the John Fisher Dann Memorial Parade. The route will move along La Salle Street to the Jordan block. Colorado Club Q survivors will be the grand marshals of the parade. The Ottawa Community Pride Band will make its debut by marching in the parade.

At 10:30 a.m., the live entertainment will begin at the Jordan block with The Little Monster: A Tribute to Lady Gaga. The Ottawa Pride Choir will perform on the main stage at 1 p.m., followed by Billboard Artist Flamy Grant (2 p.m.), who has reached the Christian charts as a drag queen, and RuPaul’s All Stars Nina West and Mrs. Kasha Davis (3 p.m.)

A musician performs during the inaugural Ottawa Family Pride Festival in 2022.

West has performed in “Hairspray” on Broadway and is on Season 9 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,” which is airing currently. Davis is best known for competing on the seventh season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and the eighth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.”

“This is the biggest entertainment we’ve had,” Conmy said, joking that he’s jealous of West, who has made appearances with Kermit the Frog from “The Muppets.”

Conmy said an emphasis is put on all entertainment being family-friendly, meaning content will remain suitable for children. Washington Square will have a magician, mechanical bull, dunk tank, a kids art station presented by Open Space Art Gallery, sidewalk chalk presented by Human Human, appearances by rescue animals from 2nd Hand Ranch in Princeton and therapy dogs. Several vendors will be set up in the park, as well.

New this year, the Starved Rock Trolley will provide an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible trolley traveling from the Jordan block to Washington Square to Reddick Public Library. The library, 1010 Canal St., will serve as a hydration station for guests and volunteers. Water, family restrooms and space to rest in air conditioning will be provided.

A crowd gathers on the Jordan block to watch the Ottawa Family Pride Festival lip sync battle on Saturday, June 10, 2023.

The event will have American sign language interpreters present.

The festival came to fruition after a grandmother called Conmy in 2021 to say that her grandson came out as transgender. Conmy and two Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce members joined the family for a mini parade on the last day of Pride Month. The next year, Conmy was inspired by the then-12-year-old boy to create a larger event for the community. The inaugural event drew 4,500 visitors in 2022.

Proceeds from previous festivals have raised money for Youth Outlook, and a scholarship has been established, but Conmy knows there’s more work to be done to provide resources for LGBTQ residents. Donations can be made online at and at the festival’s merchandise stand on Washington Square.

Conmy said that during the festival he will wear a T-shirt that has QR codes on each sleeve for donors to scan with smartphones and gain immediate access to give to the cause. He’s prepared a letter for possible donors with more details on the community center plan. Anyone interested in gaining more information also can email

Derek Barichello

Derek Barichello

Derek Barichello is the news editor for The Times in Ottawa and NewsTribune in La Salle, part of Shaw Local News Network, covering La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties. He covers local and breaking news in the areas of government, education, business and crime and courts, among others.