Thousands flock to Daylesford for ChillOut Festival

IT'S the street parade every drag queen and their dog in Daylesford turns out to see.

Rainbow flags sticking out of the back of motorbikes, a Clydesdale horse in a skin-tight Batman suit and maltese shih tzu's puffed in coloured chalk. 

The Daylesford ChillOut Festival street parade returned to town yesterday and, according to spectators, it was bigger and better than ever. 

"It's great, it's getting bigger and bigger every year," Maria Papps said. 

"We are here to show our support for equality and the atmosphere is amazing."

The three-day festival is one of the largest Country Queer Pride events in regional Australia. 

Ms Papps, who came out six years ago, said the festival was a great way to promote equality. 

"We have to go through so many barriers in society," Ms Papps said.

"(Until I came out) I was excluded. I thought this feeling (of freedom) was only in the movies," she said. 

At 11am, the Dykes on Bikes group cruised along Central Springs Road and Vincent Street, tooting and revving their bikes at spectators to mark the start of the parade. 

"I thought this feeling was only in the movies"

Drag queens were sprawled in the back of old-utes draped in red feather boas, sporting large dark lashes and even larger hair. 

Daylesford resident Tia Crane brought her children along to watch the event.

"It is important to bring your kids here to expose them to reality," Ms Crane said. 

"And to spread joy and love." 

Her friend Jasmin Allen agreed the festival was a big event in Daylesford. 

"We love gathering here as a community and love supporting everyone from all walks of life," she said. 

Beaufort's Darlene Maree said had been discriminated for her sexuality in the past and called for more acceptance in the community. 

"We have come a long way, but still have a long way to go," Ms Maree said. 

"It seems only the churches and the government are against equality."

"I pay my taxes like everyone else but I don't have the same rights. It's not fair," Ms Maree said.