Drag Queen Bingo canceled at Howell Melon Fest due to performer safety concerns


HOWELL, MI – There will no longer be a Drag Queen Bingo event next to the main area of ​​Howell Melon Fest after a month of retreat from Republicans in Livingston County.

Several reasons led to the event being canceled, but one of the main ones was concern for the safety of performers during the drag event, according to a joint statement from the Howell Area Parks and Recreation Authority (HARPA) and Beauty Beyond Drag Productions.

Anyone who booked tickets will receive a full refund, officials said.

“We know that many have been looking forward to this event and this news is a disappointment,” HARPA’s Tim Church said in the statement.

Young noted that there will always be a Mini Melon event that will provide family entertainment from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 14 at the Livingston County Courthouse on the 100 block of N. State St. in Howell.

The drag queen bingo event’s setback began with Livingston County Republican Party Chairperson Meghan Reckling questioning the relevance of a drag event. Howell officials said the event did not violate Howell’s civic event policy.

“It’s disappointing to see it performing here in Livingston County,” Reckling wrote on Facebook last month. “The Howell Melon Fest is meant to be a family event and not an event that should be sexualized with an event like this.”

Read more: GOP Official Deems ‘Steamy Drag Queen Bingo’ Inappropriate for Festival

This led to a special July 30 meeting of Howell City Council which attempted to address the concerns of those on the Reckling side, as well as the safety concerns of drag performers.

Council members voted to move the Drag Queen Bingo event from the main festival area to the historic Howell Theater. The move allowed the event to pass the 10pm Melon Fest curfew, which also allows for more shows.

Read more: Howell Melon Fest will be canceled unless organizers agree to cut alcohol early

The other decision from that meeting threatened to cancel the entire Melon Fest unless HARPA agreed to close the beer tent before 4 p.m. Ervin Suida in a July 31 press release.

Howell Police Chief Scott Mannor expressed concern at the July 30 meeting that alcohol would increase the possibility of a “riot”, although he did not cite any specific threats that were uttered.

The “Drag Bingo” event was scheduled for August 14 and was limited to people 21 years of age and older. The proceeds from ticket sales were reportedly donated to the Pride Alliance of Livingston and the Livingston Diversity Council.

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