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Drag Queen Bingo Causes Major Controversy At Town’s Local Melon Festival

by : Julia Banim on :
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For more than 60 years, the townsfolk of Howell, Michigan have flocked to their popular annual melon festival, an event which features melon rolls, melon ice cream vendors and – of course – stands packed with famed Howell Melons.

The festival was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and so locals were looking forward to seeing the melon stands piled high once again this summer.

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However, this year’s event – set to be held August 13 to 15 – has ended up rolling into the centre of an unlikely controversy after organisers booked a drag performer to host a drag queen bingo.

Howell Melon Festival (Howell Melon Festival/Facebook)Howell Melon Festival/Facebook

A number of local residents in the conservative town were strongly opposed to the show, turning up to meetings for Howell City Council and the Howell Area Parks and Recreation Authority to voice their concerns.

Meanwhile, various locals have spoken up against the drag queen’s inclusion in the festival via social media, accusing organisers of bringing a ‘sinful lifestyle’ to their town.

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The opposition was so heated that at one point it seemed as though the festival would be cancelled altogether, an outcome which would have been a blow to local businesses still recovering from the pandemic.

Keith Ridge, proprietor of Black Iron Coffee, who was among a number of business owners in the area speaking up in support of the drag act, told 7 Action News:

My wife has gone to one. It’s a hilarious comedy show with bingo, not an indoctrination.

Howell Melon Festival (Howell Melon Festival/Facebook)Howell Melon Festival/Facebook
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However, a compromise has now been reached, meaning the festival will indeed go ahead as planned. The bingo event will be held at a theatre, kicking off at the post-kids bedtime of 9:30pm. Furthermore, all alcohol sales in connection with this event have now been cancelled.

As per 7 Action News, city leaders have given the following statement:

The action taken was not clouded by an opinion, does not take a social side, was not motivated by politics rather a discussion-based purely on the concern over safety.

As we have learned from examples displayed after various sporting events that involve high emotions, large crowds and alcohol, things can take a drastic turn quickly.

Speaking about the controversy with Livingston Daily, drag artist Bradley Haas considered cancelling the show on account of some of the negative reactions, but after receiving support from his performers, decided to persevere:

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I wasn’t going into it with the idea of wanting to make change. But it’s been brought to my attention that change needs to be made, and that starts with standing up to people and standing our ground.

Drag Queen Bingo will take place in Howell on August 14, and has proven so popular tickets have already sold out.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Life

Credits

Livingston Daily and 1 other
  1. Livingston Daily

    The show will go on: Drag Queen Bingo director excited for Howell Melon Fest, will stand ground

  2. WXYZ

    Drag Queen Bingo causes Howell city leaders to cancel annual festival then compromise with no alcohol