The dust is only settling after the first Pride in the Pilbara but the organisers expect it to return bigger and better next year after the success of the inaugural festival this week. People came out in droves to support the weeklong festivities that could be seen throughout Port and South Hedland. Organisers believe more than 160 people came to one of the marquee events of the week, Wednesday, June 14 night’s Drag Queen Bingo event. Visitor centre manager Julie Arif, who helped organise and run Pride, said the festival got more popular as it went along. “Everyone that was at the Bingo was rolling around on the floor laughing,” she said. “People were all saying, ‘I’m going to the trivia night tomorrow night’. “They were all really looking forward to the next thing each day.” Given the success of the inaugural event, Ms Arif said plans were already being made for the festival to return in 2024. “The organising committee is really happy with how it has gone,” she said. “We’ve kept templates of everything which will make it easier for next year and more streamlined. “The committee is definitely keen to do next year and we are getting a response with ongoing business and community sponsorship into the future.” The Town of Port Hedland supported the 2023 Pride in the Pilbara festival through the Town’s Community Development Grant. The Grant contributed to the cost of staging, logistics, security, and insurance of the festival. Ms Arif said the Town’s grants went a big way into helping the festival go ahead. “They’ve been really good,” she said. “They were very supportive with promotions and financial support which was really fantastic.” Mayor Peter Carter said Pride in the Pilbara sought to build understanding throughout the community. “The Town of Port Hedland works to support our unique community — we embrace diversity and champion equality,” he said. “Pilbara Pride Week serves as an important platform to support understanding, empathy, and unity across our community.” Read more about Port Hedland’s inaugural Pride in the Pilbara in North West Telegraph Lifestyle.