SUNNY GROUP: Radical Faeries Group members Snapdragon, Papillon, Teacosy and Jazmin set up shop at the Fruitopia Day at the Lismore Showground.
SUNNY GROUP: Radical Faeries Group members Snapdragon, Papillon, Teacosy and Jazmin set up shop at the Fruitopia Day at the Lismore Showground. Marc Stapelberg

Fruitopia celebrates diversity, strengthens community

FABULOUS flares, brightly coloured wigs, and pampered dogs sporting their favourite colours were all part of the Fruitopia GLBTI event on Saturday.

Event co-ordinator Jinky Mactal said the free event celebrated and brought together the whole community.

"The wider community can come here, and that's one thing we wanted to do," Ms Mactal said.

"We wanted to break down the idea that we're creatures in the night," she said.

The event was held in memory of Erif Benham who died of a terminal illness in 2009.

"Erif was a great member of the community ... she really changed the gay and lesbian community here in Northern Rivers," Ms Mactal said.

"When she passed away it left a huge dent in the community," she said.

GALLERY: More images from Fruitopia

Mary Sims, of Uki, with dog Mzy Maltzer.
Mary Sims, of Uki, with dog Mzy Maltzer.

The event held at Lismore Showgrounds featured the "infamous" dog show, children's activities, stalls selling food and drinks , drag and in the evening, DJs and dancing.

Money raised goes towards the Tropical Fruits Land Fund.

"(Erif's) last wish was for the Tropical Fruits to have our own land where we can party," Ms Mactal said.

"Tropical Fruits has been going since 1988 and it started just by community people here ... Lismore's really embraced us," she said.

The Tropical Fruits' next big event of the year is the annual New Year's Eve Festival, which will be themed Superfreaks.

Tia Churchhill and Hayley Kearns show support for Fruitopia.
Tia Churchhill and Hayley Kearns show support for Fruitopia.

Usually that event has around 5000 attendees from across Australia, and some international visitors.

The primary events co-ordinator for Tropical Fruits is Maude Boat, who featured as MC and performer at Fruitopia.

Some of the other performers of Saturday's event included Dreamtime Divas and Destiny Haz Arrived.

"She (Destiny) is the first indigenous drag queen who in the last couple of years has been fronting mardi grass," Ms Mactal said.

"She's a local from Bundjalung ... we're very proud of her," she said.



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