Wagga mental health advocate earmarks Wagga for potential Mardi Gras festival in 2019

A leading Wagga mental health advocate says there’s “more than enough” scope for the city to host a Mardi Gras festival next year.

It follows the widespread success of Hay’s inaugural Mardi Gras festival last weekend.

The weekend saw over 400 march in the street parade on Saturday afternoon and 370 attend the official afterparty

Rainbow on the Plains committee member Kerri Mijok said she was “on a huge high” for days after the event.

Patrick Lawson, founder of Corowa mental health advocacy group 3Words, was another who attended the Riverina’s answer to Sydney’s famed celebrations and was simply “blown away” by the community’s response.

“It was absolutely amazing, just completely and utterly phenomenal,” he said.

“I was thrilled to see such a small town get behind a national event and make it their own.”

The father of one heard some businesses in Hay had threatened to boycott the event but said he saw nothing but wellwishers.

“There was talk about businesses closing for the weekend but from where we stood on the main street, every second business was streaming rainbows and supporting the parade,” he said.

“That’s what it’s all about - people supporting one another.”

Now, Mr Lawson believes it’s time Wagga consider hosting their own event.

“Hay was a sign and I really do believe that Wagga does have the capacity to host something like this,” he said.

“In my opinion, Wagga played an integral part of the plebiscite with Michael McCormack voting with the electorate and it would be a terrific place to host a celebration of not just LGBTQI residents, but the entire community as a whole.”

Mr Lawson is also working on a film about suicide prevention and mental health and says people should never have to hide personal issues or fight on their own.

“We’re trying to spread a message of hope and healing,” he said.