The Chicago Pride Fest outdoor celebration returned June 18-19, as local Pride events lead up to the parade on Sunday, June 26. The festival featured music on three stages and more than 150 vendors running down Halsted Street from Addison Street to Grace Street.
The popular street carnival brought in record-breaking numbers of attendance with long lines of people waiting at times to have their bags checked and pay the suggested donation of $15.
Once entered into the gated festival, party people danced across one of the 14 rainbow crosswalks painted in 2019 near the Papa John's Waveland Stage. Among the DJs spinning at this stage were drag artist Miss Toto and YouTube interviewer DJ Vlad.
Bud Light Seltzer was a major sponsor of Pride Fest and, thus, gained attention at the Bud Light Seltzer North Stage. This was the stage where Palestinian protestors slightly delayed the appearance of Israeli singer Netta Barzilai, who was scheduled to perform at 2 p.m. on June 18. Security encouraged the group to move to a designated protest area. DJ Laura B played the Steam track "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" as the protesters exited. Netta, the winner of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, emotionally said as she began her set, "I have one thing to say: I have been bullied my entire life. I am a straight girl with a very gay story. We are here to celebrate love, acceptance, diversity, freedom and nothing else."
For the first time, a youth-focused area for ages 13-18 was set up; it was set up June 18 at Waveland Avenue and Broadway to provide counseling, support and giveaways for a younger generation. Howard Brown Health's Broadway Youth Center and Elgin's Youth Outlook social service agency were part of this collaboration to reach LGBTQ+ individuals looking for assistance.
Another addition to the festivities was a pop-up called "Peach Presents Planet Peach: A Juneteenth Pride Celebration" at the South Stage at Addison on Sunday. Crowds witnessed rapper CupcakKe; Dyllon Burnside, from the television show Pose; and RuPaul Drag Racer The Vixen perform in remembrance of the freeing of enslaved people in Texas in 1865.
A Proud Pet Parade started at noon on Juen 19 starting from the North Stage and was presented by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago. Drag personality Miss Foozie hosted it.
The radio station 103.5 KISS FM held a Hot Dad Bod Contest, Hulu's Fire Island flick provided a dildo ring toss with memorabilia and the staff at WGN-TV handed souvenirs at a booth in the middle of the strip. Insurance company Geico, nutrition gurus Vital Proteins and home energy planners NRG were among the many other companies with booths.
Headliner and past Windy City Times interviewee Dorian Electra ended the weekend at the North Stage in front of a diverse audience who came out to see the openly queer performer.
Start planning at northalsted.com for the upcoming Market Days street festival on Aug. 6-7.