Fire Ball drag fundraiser melts hearts with 10 year anniversary

Two sold out nights of celebration

Delia Brandel

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Photo by Delia Brandel

The event was held at Davies Student Center.

This weekend on Feb. 24-25, UW-Eau Claire hosted the 10th annual Fire Ball drag fundraiser. This event was hosted in Davies Student Center and was open to the public and students alike.

The Fire Ball is an opportunity for the LGBTQ students and community to celebrate, along with their allies. 

Chris Jorgenson is the executive director of diversity, equity, leadership and inclusion. 

Jorgenson said, “The Fire Ball is not only one of the largest events on campus, but it’s one of the largest events of its kind.” 

A unique feature of this fundraiser is that according to the website, “100% of the proceeds fund Gender & Sexuality Resource Center programming, the bulk of which supports student social justice advocacy efforts.”

This directly affects the marginalized students on campus, who use or can benefit from these resources. In fact, the Fire Ball has helped fund the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, Q Fest and the Women’s Leadership Conference. 

“It’s often called Queer Homecoming on campus. We get a ton of alums coming back, we get people from all over the community and people fly in. It’s just one big queer celebration,” Jorgenson said.

Additionally, proceeds of any food, beverage or tips received during the two-day event go toward food shelves, according to the website.

Many of the attendees include UW-Eau Claire alumni and students, and event director Kallie Friede spoke on the importance of this event to the queer community at and around the school.

“The motto has always been ‘Come as you are, come as you want to be,’ and we really do see people come out and explore gender expression and identity. It’s a space that is really transformative for a lot of our queer students,” said Friede. 

First-time attendees of the event and UW-Eau Claire alumni Rebecca J. and Sonja R. discussed the importance of this event in this region of the country.

“Eau Claire is pretty LGBTQ friendly so I think this is a good community space for everyone to get together and even just have other people be a part of it, even if they aren’t as familiar with it,” said Rebecca. 

The event features two nights of drag performances, live music and a bar. Discounted tickets are available for students, alongside the more expensive tickets that include the afterparty and additional seating. 

According to Jorgenson, it is considered a very high-selling event. 

“We have 750 seats each night, they sell out both nights, they have since we started the show ten years ago,” Jorgenson said. 

The event has an afterparty where attendees can meet their favorite drag queens, some coming from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and other notable outlets.

This year, the Fire Ball was hosted by Coco Latté and Khloe Wold. Alongside these performers, there were also local and flown-in drag performers in both sets Friday and Saturday. 

The event plans to return next year, and continue as a standing tradition and celebration of queer students in the community. 

When considering attending, Jorgenson said to “get your tickets fast,” recommending that those interested regularly check the Gender and Sexuality resource center website. 

Delia can be reached at [email protected].