The chair of the Livingston County Republican Party has called out the organizers of the local Howell Melon Fest for their decision to allow a “Drag Bingo” event to take place during the event.
“This is disappointing to see happening here in Livingston County,” Chair Meghan Reckling wrote in a post on Facebook. “The Howell Melon Fest is supposed to be a family-friendly event and not one that should be sexualized with an event like this.”
The “Drag Bingo” event is set to take place on August 14 during the Melon Fest in Howell, Michigan, and is limited to individuals age 21 and older, but there will still likely be many children in the area at that time.
“At 9:30 pm, there are plenty of kids downtown getting ice cream and hanging out,” Reckling wrote.
The event will include drag queens and drag kings, and there will be bingo and drick tickets for beer and wine.
“Please be aware there will be many raunchy jokes for adult audiences only,” the event’s press release said.
“This event is being advertised as a ‘raunchy’ event,” Reckling noted in her post. “Hosting a raunchy event downtown, in a tent, around kids is inappropriate. You can limit the age of people sitting at the tables inside the tent, but the kids downtown will still be subjected to the event’s content.”
Reckling is asking others to join her in calling out the hosts of the festival, encouraging them to email the Howell Area Parks and Recreation.
“Whether it’s a wet t-shirt contest or raunchy drag queen bingo, this is not the appropriate time nor place for an event of this nature,” the Republican Party chair wrote.
“You can’t claim the event isn’t sexual when they are explicitly advertising it will be. I never spoke about the sexual preference, sexual orientation, or gender identity of anyone attending or participating in the event because it’s none of my business, and it doesn’t matter,” she added.
The event is sold out, and has a waiting list to attend. Funds from each ticket will be going to the Pride Alliance of Livingston and Livingston Diversity Council.
City officials in Howell have released a statement responding to Reckling’s concerns, stating that the “event at a traditionally family-friendly festival celebrating the harvesting of Howell’s unique melon was a decision made by the Howell Area Parks and Recreation Authority.”
The officials also noted that the “Drag Bingo” event was not discussed with the city staff, but added that the event doesn’t violate Howell’s civic event policy.
The Parks and Recreation Department also issued a statement, which read: “We would like to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all who live and visit the Howell Area,” officials from the parks and recreation department said. “We should celebrate our community together. We do not support hate or want to create an environment for hate.”
The department also claimed that it would be working with local officials, the board, and community businesses to address concerns about the event. Officials within the department have stated that the event will likely still be happening during the Melon Fest, but that “the venue will more than likely change.”