The 5th Annual Drag Brunch benefitting Golisano Children’s Hospital featured eight performers – both drag queens and kings — on Saturday, June 3, at Springside Inn, 6141 W. Lake Road, Auburn.
Thom Barron, of Auburn, founded the event after his mother, who used to knit items for children at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Inspired by his mom, Barron came up with the Ivanna Michaels persona and started performing, eventually raising almost $50,000 for the children’s hospital to help families with items related to hospital visits such as food, gas, or toiletries.
The two showings on Saturday brought in $16,133.60. Ryleigh Farrell, 11, and her mother, Natasha, of Syracuse, attended the event and talked about Ryleigh’s diagnosis of sickle cell anemia and how their family has been helped with expenses through the Upstate Foundation.
Barron stresses that drag performance is an art form and says, “I keep it family-friendly.” The performances feature characters created by the drag artists, interpretations of songs children know, and wordplay to entertain people of all ages.
Performers included Ivanna Michael (Thom Barron), of Auburn, founder and co-host; Rhea Listic, of Syracuse, co-host; Mrs. Kasha Davis, of Rochester, a cast member of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8; Miss Drips (Ryan Tyrrell), of Tampa, Florida; Justin Saine (Jennifer Castle), of Binghamton; Slim Saine (E. Stevens), of Binghamton; Angelo Valentino, of Utica; and Twigs Von’Du (Kaneradhiio Hodge), of Syracuse.
The fundraiser also featured 180 raffle prizes.
Barron said he was on cloud nine after the show, and also after the recent proclamation from New York Governor Kathy Hochul designating June 2023 as LGBTQ+ Pride Month and delivering a message celebrating the LGBTQ+ community in New York State Barron said next year’s plans include a masquerade party in February and another drag brunch in June, both at the Springside Inn in Auburn.