It was a serendipitous meeting that lead organizer Sarah Barnhart to start up this popular new shindig in town. Sarah is a Black biracial, queer, independent parent, mindful movement teacher, maker, and founder of Mixed In Hamilton. As so many of us turned to online events during the pandemic, Sarah took part in Bedroom Dancing, co-hosted by local bar Sous Bas, DJ Donna Lovejoy and WEFTprojects. The Zoom party brought people together for an evening of music and movement. While in the groove, Sarah connected with a woman, who also happened to be named Sarah B, located in Montreal. It was through taking a trip to la belle province and attending a Salade de Fruits event with her new friend, that it clicked. “I stopped and looked around, and I was like, ‘Hamilton needs to have this,’” recalls Sarah, adding that she met with the Montreal event organizer, Avery, who was very encouraging of Sarah bringing a similar event back to Hamilton.
“I stopped and looked around, and I was like, ‘Hamilton needs to have this,’”
“Especially for women and gender nonconforming folks,” Sarah reflects. “That was what I really realized was kind of missing. Also being a mom, and out of the ‘going out’ scene, I didn’t really realize how much I needed a space like that until I went to it.” It’s also important to have a range of events, from bars and late-night dance parties, to more low-key get-togethers that still provide that social atmosphere. There are even more new queer events in the local scene to choose from now, such as Hamilton Queer Hangs, which also launched this summer, and live music series Sounds Gay! Hamilton.
Indicative of the collaborative and supportive nature of the Hamilton community, once Sarah set the idea in motion, many local folks came aboard. First up, a venue was required. Returning home from her Montreal trip, Sarah headed right to an event at Westdale bar The Side Door, and felt inspired to approach them to host Fruit Salad’s first event this past August. Each event also features a delicious food vendor, and Mamey came aboard with a tamale pop-up. Bringing things full circle, it was a no-brainer to ask DJ Donna Lovejoy to provide the groovy soundtrack for the inaugural summer event on The Side Door’s patio. Showcasing small businesses and creators is an important aspect of these events, and all the more important due to the pandemic’s dire impact on local business.
The pandemic also brought about time for many people to reflect on their identities, re-align with themselves, and perhaps make the realization that they are part of the queer community. Sarah heard from those who found Fruit Salad Hamilton as a welcoming space to join in and find community. “I feel so honoured that people have been open enough to share that with me as well at these events. I’m just so happy this is here.”
“I feel so honoured that people have been open enough to share that with me as well at these events. I’m just so happy this is here.”
Continuing to grow in popularity, each monthly event has been a sold-out affair with a waitlist, including November’s edition taking place at Collective Arts Brewing. Sarah has also taken Fruit Salad on the road, with events held in Guelph, and next up, Kitchener on December 11th.
For the upcoming holiday season, find Fruit Salad Hamilton collaborating with BLK OWNED HamOnt on December 4 at The Side Door for the 2SQTBIPOC Holiday Night Market, featuring 10+ vendors, DJ, and winter cocktails. Beyond that, Sarah has even more in the works: “Lots of dreaming is happening, and I’m excited about where things will go.”