Pride Fest moving to downtown Champaign

Pride Fest moving to downtown Champaign

URBANA — Champaign-Urbana’s annual Pride Fest is moving outdoors to downtown Champaign and adding a parade to make it more inclusive.

“It’s for the entire community,” says Heath Peterson, chairman of the event being presented by the UP (Uniting Pride) Center of Champaign County.

Ask columnist Tom Kacich for his thoughts on the Pride Fest and parade — or on any other topic — here.

Set for Sept. 6, it will be the fifth annual festival the organization has held, Peterson said. Previous ones have been held indoors at Lincoln Square, but organizers felt it was time to bring it outdoors and expand it with a parade, he said.

“In the typical pride celebration, in most of the larger cities, you’ll find that they are always outside in the open, where a lot of people can attend,” Peterson said.

And he said, “we’d love to have families.”

In years past, the Pride Fest held inside Lincoln Square has drawn 2,000 to 3,000 people, and the organization is hoping to about double the crowd to 5,000, Peterson said.

And hopefully there will be even more people coming to the parade, which is set to follow the same route as the city’s annual holiday Parade of Lights, he said.

What can be expected for the parade?

Local organizations will take part, and probably some of the politicians, Peterson said.

“I think it’s safe to say, we’ve encouraged everyone to be family-friendly, and know that there will be children in attendance,” he said. “So while we don’t want to necessarily infringe on people’s expression, we do try to limit it.

“There won’t be open nudity and profanity of that nature.”

The community does have a strong drag-queen population that will be represented, Peterson said, “but I think it will be done very tastefully.”

The festival will take place on the parking lot by the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, 346 N. Neil St., Peterson said.

There will be both activities through the afternoon and evening parties at downtown bars beginning at 9 p.m.

The parade will run from 5 to 6 p.m., in time for traffic from an 11 a.m. University of Illinois home football game against Western Kentucky to clear.

The festival will include a clothing exchange for the trans community with a private and safe environment indoors to try on clothes, Peterson said. It can be a challenge for men who want to dress in women’s clothes to go into stores and try them on in dressing rooms intended for women, he said.

His organization is still accepting vendor and parade applications through mid-August and has had a good response from the city of Champaign about moving the event downtown, he said.

“They said they were really excited that we were bringing this to downtown Champaign and they couldn’t wait to be a part of it,” he said.

According to Kris Koester, a spokesman for the Champaign Public Works Department, the city’s response was it will do anything it can to include and recognize more people.

Champaign already blocks off streets for such events as the Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival; Bloomington Gold Corvette Show; Mariposa Music Festival; Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon; and Parade of Lights, and will follow the usual procedure for posting signs about closures the day beforehand and closing and reopening streets on the day of the pride festival event, he said.

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Joe American wrote on July 24, 2014 at 12:07 pm

"“It’s for the entire community,” says Heath Peterson"

Yup, nothing says wholesome family fun quite like taking the kiddos downtown to see some men sporting good old fashioned @$$less chaps and studded leather binding harnesses. Ahhh, just like the good old days.

Yeah, think I have plans that day.

jlc wrote on July 24, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Yeah, think I have plans that day.

Good. Your kind isn't welcome anyway.

SaintClarence27 wrote on July 30, 2014 at 10:07 am

Yup. I try and stay away from people who veer from stereotypes to bigotry. Thanks.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on July 24, 2014 at 3:07 pm
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We’ve encouraged everyone to be family-friendly, and know that there will be children in attendance,” he said. “So while we don’t want to necessarily infringe on people’s expression, we do try to limit it.

“There won’t be open nudity and profanity of that nature.”

It sure doesn't sound like what you described will be going on there, Joe American.  Any other tired stereotypes you'd like to throw out there?

Just admit want your kids to think and act exactly like you do, and you don't want them exposed to anything that you don't completely agree with.  It's OK.....a lot of parents are narcissistic that way.

virgil g wrote on July 24, 2014 at 3:07 pm

All chaps are @$$less, otherwise they'd be pants.

loopillini wrote on July 24, 2014 at 12:07 pm

This is a great move by the organizing committee. Hopefully this will help the festival grow an thrive even more than it has. Very much looking forward to, what I think, will be the first and only Pride parade in Illinois outside of Chicago!

shortgirl wrote on July 24, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I'm sorry Joe American is so narrow-minded. I see more "@$$less chaps and studded leather binding harnesses" at biker events than I have ever seen at LGBTQA events. I'm not judging. People are free to express themselves as they choose. And I choose to support the LGBTQA community just as I support the biker community and others alike. We are all human. Why define each other any other way?

While I am disappointed this event is leaving Urbana, I am thrilled for their growth. The UP Center does amazing things for our community.

tarlos25 wrote on July 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm

So when do we get a festival and parade celebrating traditional heterosexual marriage?

Or for farmers?

How about a parade for teachers?

Maybe unions?

News reporters?

Oh, I know, let's celebrate internet commenters!







Pastafarians (that one would be fun!).

Should I go on?  I'm not trying to say that someone should hide being homosexual, or any other (legal) aspect of themselves.  I'm saying we don't need to have so freaking many festivals, parades, etc.  Just live your life in peace.  I'll live mine in peace.  And everyone will be all the happier for it.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on July 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm
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All of those groups of people you have listed would certainly be able to rent spaces for an event and conduct a parade of their own, if they so chose.  

How is holding a parade or festival incompatible with living one's life "in peace?"  Or with letting others living their lives in peace?

If you're trying to make a humanist argument that we are all one, and that an overemphasis on demographic-based pride leads to unproductive divisions amongst society, that would be an interesting discussion to have.  But I'm not sure that's what you're getting at.

Feel free to sign me up for the Pastafarian Parade, though.

rsp wrote on July 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm

There is a tractor parade locally and every year the Laborer's union has a parade. At Christmas there's one, too. Some of those other groups march in the 4th of July parade.

SaintClarence27 wrote on July 30, 2014 at 10:07 am

When an oppressed minority (still oppressed in many states) wants to declare who they are and declare that they will no longer be shamed, and instead be proud of who they are, I'm all for it.

yates wrote on July 27, 2014 at 9:07 am

Why isn't it being sold as "Gay Pride Fest" if it's so wholesome? Sounds like somebody wants to keep it a bit in the closet, doesn't it. Just sayin.

Mr Dreamy wrote on July 27, 2014 at 11:07 am

The more festivals and parades the better as far as I'm concerned. I might go to some, or all, and I might learn a few things, too. Like tolerance for others.

My only complaint might be closing streets briefly for a parade but Champaign is a pretty small town, so I guess I could drive a block or two out of my way if I had to.



LocalTownie wrote on July 28, 2014 at 8:07 am

Here's the great thing about living in America, you can choose not to attend the festival or parade if it's not your thing! If you don't want to expose your kids to homosexuality, then don't! I'm sure there are lots of other activities you can find for your family. My philosophy is live and let live, you don't infringe on me and I won't infringe on you.

SaintClarence27 wrote on July 30, 2014 at 10:07 am

While I'm with you, I think a lot of people are convinced they shield their children from things that the children have long been readily aware of.