Pageant winners enjoying the parade (Pic: Martyn Hill)

Last week’s Pink Loerie Festival and Mardi Gras concluded over the weekend with Saturday’s street parade through Knysna, described as one of the event’s biggest ever.

The annual event in the bucolic Western Cape coastal town began on the 1st of May and included cabaret shows, an art exhibition, pageants, a fleamarket and parties galore.

Amidst all the fun, the festival raised over R20,000 for the Loerie Hof Retirement Home with proceeds from a drag show, private donations and a contribution from  official sponsor Globeflight.

Saturday’s procession saw hundreds of colourful participants parading through Knysna’s main road as locals crammed onto pavements and into coffee shops and restaurants to watch on.

The parade included Knysna’s Mayor Georglene Wolmarans, Mr Gay World Andreas Derleth from New Zealand and Mr Gay South Africa Jason Lee Rogers from Gauteng.

Festival organiser Coenie Kukkuk, who estimated that the event brought around 25,000 people to Knysna, said that this year’s parade “was really spectacular. It had the most costumes I’ve seen there. And the parade took twice as long to finish.”

Genevieve Le Coq & Lola Fine (Pic: Justine Edwards)

Mayor Wolmarans helped judge the best costume in the parade, which went to Genevieve Le Coq and Lola Fine. Their orange and yellow feathered creations won them a Jonway scooter.

Designed to attract visitors to Knysna during the quiet autumn season and to celebrate LGBTI diversity, this was the 13th Pink Loerie Festival to be held.

The Pink Loerie has at times generated some controversy among local conservatives and religious groups, but this year the town appeared to fully back the event.

In a message published in the Pink Loerie news publication, the mayor welcomed LGBTI visitors and said that Knysna takes a “lot of pride in hosting this festival each year.” 

She added: “The Pink Loerie experience just gets better with each passing year and we hope to strengthen and build on this relationship in years to come.”

Watch a video of the parade by Mark Rose-Christie below.

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