By Jessica Mathews & Jon King /

Howell city officials are distancing themselves from a sold-out Drag Queen Bingo show being held in conjunction with the Howell Melon Festival next month.

A press release on Friday by the City of Howell said officials were recently made aware of concerns regarding the event. Complaints began after Livingston County Republican Party Chair Meghan Reckling posted on Facebook that it was “disappointing” to see the event happening in Livingston County, saying Melon Fest is supposed to be a family-friendly event and not one that should be “sexualized.” The post further encouraged people to contact the Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority or HAPRA.

The City’s press release states the event does not violate city policies and that as a charter-mandated non-partisan entity, it consistently embraces diversity in all forms. The City says it has a robust anti-discrimination policy that values the rights and equality of all people. Specifically included in the policy is the City’s support of fair and equal treatment for the gay and transgender community.

However, it goes on to say the decision to program the “Drag Queen Bingo” event was a decision made by HAPRA. The show takes place on Saturday night, August 14th, and is for those age 21 and up. It’s already sold out with a lengthy waiting list and a portion of the funds going to benefit the Pride Alliance of Livingston and the Livingston Diversity Council.

HAPRA Director Tim Church told WHMI they understand there are mixed feelings regarding the decision - there are community members who want to enjoy an entertaining adult show and others who disagree with it. He said they want to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all who live and visit the Howell area and everyone should celebrate the community together. Church commented further they do not support hate or want to create an environment for hate and will be working to address concerns. He noted that they plan on allowing the event, although the venue will more than likely change.

Church’s full statement is attached, along with the City's release.