Several Fringe Festival posters were vandalized with stickers promoting men's activists groups this week. (Megan Dart)

Several Edmonton Fringe Festival show posters had to be replaced this week after being vandalized with stickers promoting two men’s activists groups.

Christine Lesiak was disappointed that some of her posters had to be replaced after they were partially covered with stickers.

"It's deeply demoralizing, especially at the beginning of the festival," Lesiak said after finding out about her defaced posters Tuesday.

The stickers promote two groups — A Voice for Men and Men's Rights Edmonton.

Lesiak says the damage hurts her company financially as well.

"Aside from Fringe fees, the entry fees — printing is the biggest line item in our budget," she said. "We count every single penny."

Megan Dart, who runs a local production company, thought at first that perhaps the attacks were gender-based as many of the posters targeted seemed to have more women in the cast, one specifically was promoting a burlesque show. However, she also noted that several new and emerging companies had also been targeted.

"A number of posters had been targeted," Dart said. "So everything from — we have a cross-dressing comedy troupe based here in Edmonton — their posters were defamed, but also emerging groups."

"We care very deeply for our artists, so to have this happen three days before our festival, it's a shame," Thomas Scott, program director for Fringe Theatre Adventures, said. "This festival is supposed to be about a celebration of the creation of independent theatre. So when this happens, it's just rude."

On Tuesday afternoon many Fringe supporters spent their lunch hours ripping off the stickers and replacing damaged posters.

The Edmonton Fringe Festival starts August 16 and runs until August 26.

With files from CBC's Jennie Russell