Bursting with Pride

Sixth annual Pride festival features live music, drag show, free HIV testing, more

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRUCE RUSHTON

Celebrate “the gayest day in central Illinois” by attending the sixth annual Springfield PrideFest on Saturday, May 21, from noon to 10 p.m., on Capitol Avenue between Fourth and Sixth streets. The free street festival contains something for everyone including a ribbon cutting ceremony, live music by some of Springfield’s most-loved bands, a drag show, kids’ area, teen lounge, vendors, free HIV testing plus food, soft drinks, wine and beer for purchase.

Inspired by Pride events all around the United States, Springfield’s first PrideFest committee was formed in 2010 by the staff of the nonprofit Phoenix Center. The Phoenix Center has functioned as Springfields’ LGBTQ community center since 2001, providing support, outreach and activities for all ages. Much like other national Pride celebrations, the goal of Springfield’s festival is to embrace diversity and celebrate our local LGBTQ community. It took approximately one year to get the first Pride festival off the ground. The first Springfield Pride festival was six hours long and attended by approximately 3,000 on Sunday, May 22, 2011.

This year’s fun begins at noon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Springfield Phoenix Center board of directors and Springfield PrideFest Committee chairs Jonna J. Cooley and Roy Pyers. Other invited guests include Ward 6 Alderman Cory Jobe, Mayor Jim Langfelder, Springfield Treasurer Misty Buscher and Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray.

It wouldn’t be PrideFest without live music, and this year’s lineup is no exception. The Club Station House Stage will be rocking all day with some of Springfield’s favorite performers from a variety of genres, such as the Capital City Men’s Chorus, SAP, Our Lady, Thornhill, a Rocky Horror Revue, Venus Envy and Blue Ribbon Revival. A festival highlight is sure to be the 7 p.m. performance by San Francisco-based rock band Pansy Division. Formed in 1991, Pansy Division is recognized as one of the more melodic bands to emerge from the 1980s “queercore” cultural and social movement as an offshoot to punk. The Club Station House Stage will close out the night with the crowd-pleasing drag show from 8:30-10 p.m, which features award-winning local and regional drag performers such as Mahogany Knight, Deanna Knight and more.     

PrideFest features more than 50 local and national vendors offering merchandise, services, information, food and/or drink. Informational vendors include AARP, The Coaliton of Rainbow Alliances, Equality Illinois, the Illinois State Bar Association, Springfield PFLAG and more. Shopping and service vendors include The Human Rights Campaign, Out!Wear, PridaWear, Paisley Peacock Body Art and Designs in Wire. Enjoy food and drink by Chadito’s, Cooper’s strEATside Bistro, Harry’s Adult Daycare, Vose’s Corndogs and others. Fifth Street Renaissance, a local organization that provides programs for persons living with HIV and AIDS, as well as other services, will offer complimentary HIV testing and outreach.

As in past years, there will be special areas and tents for kids and teens. Kids can enjoy a special science-themed area. The teen lounge will feature various activities plus art projects, a drag competition and more.

Springfield PrideFest is free and open to all. For more information about Springfield PrideFest, including a full entertainment lineup and vendor list, visit http://springfieldpride.org or contact the Springfield Phoenix Center at 528-5253. –Nan Bulli

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