Excitement ramps up for 9-hour Pride in the Park festival

Wed. April 17, 2019 4:03 PM by GoPride.com News Staff

iggy azalea to headline pride in the park

photo credit // pride in the park chicago

Tier 1 of the VIP tickets almost sold out as brisk sales continue in anticipation of first-ever fest

Chicago, IL - When organizers started planning the inaugural Pride In The Park, they built a diverse list of about 100 artists to contact, GoPride.com has confirmed.

The headliners, announced in early-April, include four-time Grammy-nominated and multi-platinum Australian rapper Iggy Azalea and two-time Grammy-nominated producer/DJ Steve Aoki – and the buzz about the event really kicked off the day the stars were announced.

The lineup also includes four-time Grammy and Emmy nominee Tamar Braxton, and pop icon Taylor Dane. Plus, the event will also feature Broadway vocalist, drag queen, and choreographer Todrick Hall; Kathy Sledge, known for her hit "We Are Family;" LGBTQ pop artist Gia Woods; RuPaul's Drag Race superstars Coco Montrese, Alexis Michelle, and Chicago's own Shea Coulee; WBBM-FM (B96) resident Miss DJ Meg; and Chicago rapper KC Ortiz.

"June is an incredibly busy month for artist bookings due to Pride events and other festivals and events around the country, (including) World Pride in New York City, which is on the same weekend (as Pride In The Park)" said Dusty Carpenter, the president of Dreambrite, which is producing Pride In The Park, which will be held Saturday, June 29, in Chicago's Grant Park.

"Artists performing at any of Chicago's numerous other music festivals during the summer (also) are out of the picture due to radius clauses in their contracts with whichever festival they are performing at."

Pride In The Park is a nine-hour music and entertainment show, starting at 1 p.m.

"I saw the (entertainment) lineup the same time as everyone else and I was so excited ... I couldn't believe it," said KC Ortiz. "I am very excited, to be honest, to be a part of such a huge line-up ... also a little bit anxious to do well.

"I'm super stoked (to be) working with Steve Aoki. I also really love Tamar and I've been a fan of Iggy since before she blew up."

Carpenter said the drive of Pride in the Park Chicago is to deliver a broad spectrum of music and entertainment. "By providing a range of different types of music, we hope there will be something for everyone, and attendees will have the chance to hear some of their favorite artists in addition to being able to discover new ones they hadn't known before," he said.

"We're absolutely thrilled to have Steve Aoki on the lineup – he's one of the biggest names in EDM. He's a two-time Grammy nominee (and) consistently in the upper reaches of DJ Mag's 'Top 100 DJs' poll. He has played many of the biggest festivals in the world, including Ultra Music Festival, Lollapalooza, Coachella, and more. When we contacted his team, they jumped at the chance to be a part of our event. I've been to a number of EDM festivals, and I have always found the EDM community to be extremely welcoming and supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. We think that Steve and other artists from the EDM world are great allies to have on the Pride in the Park Chicago stage."

Carpenter added, "I can't believe our great fortune in having such an incredibly accomplished artist, Iggy Azalea, on the lineup for the inaugural year of Pride in the Park Chicago. She's a four-time Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum artist, and she's a fantastic performer with such great energy. It's really amazing for us to have a household name like Iggy as a headliner, and we're thrilled that she's interested in building stronger ties with the LGBTQ+ community."

There was, though, some drawback to her appearance, based on Tweets from 2010, which have long been deleted and Azalea has repeatedly apologized for.

Carpenter knew the backlash was coming.

"We were aware of (these Tweets), and we knew that it would likely come up in conversation," he said. "Regardless, she has owned up to her mistakes and spent years apologizing for the comments. It was a long time ago and considering she has apologized, I think it's time to forgive and forget. After all, isn't Pride all about changing hearts and minds and building new bridges with people?"

Shea Coulee, Mayhem Miller, and Miss Vanjie are all featured in Azalae's new music video.

"Working with Iggy on the set of Sally Walker was so much fun," Coulee told GoPride.com. "We worked together previously at Roscoe's Tavern, and I'm so flattered that she remembered me and reached out."

"Being a Part of the first LGBT Music festival in Grant Park is equal parts exciting and humbling," added Coulee. "As a newer recording artist, it feels great to return to my home town, and put on a show for this incredibly supportive and uplifting community."

Carpenter continued, "We have such a diverse group of talent, it should be a very exciting show.

So who will be the surprise star at Pride In The Park?

Many have offered their input, but Tamar Braxton certainly should draw, as she has a huge following and has been on RuPaul's Drag Race as a host.

"Producing a big event in one of the most iconic locations of one of the biggest cities in the country costs a lot of money," Carpenter said. "I don't think many people realize how many costs there are associated with putting an event like this together. Booking the park costs money, building a huge stage costs money, renting the lighting and sound equipment costs money, putting up fencing around the event area cost money, security costs money, bringing in portable bathrooms for the event costs money; the list goes on and on. We're very lucky to have great sponsorship partners for the first year of the event, which is helping to lower the price of tickets."

General admission tickets are $50, and VIP tickets are $100.

The prices have generated online banter.

But, a festival insider told GoPride.com the pricing is fair compared to other summer festivals in the city, and compared to performances by individual artists around the city. A one-day ticket to Lollapalooza ranges from $130 to $2,000. Yes, it's a much larger festival, but it's in the same location and talent is on par. Saturday tickets to Pride Island in New York, which is on the same day as Pride in the Park Chicago, are currently $125 to $200.  The annual Proud to Run 5K Walk over Pride weekend in Chicago costs $47, while the 13.1-mile half marathon in that event costs $62.34.

"Pride In The Park is a welcome addition to all the other events offered in and around Chicago during Pride month," said Matthew Harvat, president of CircuitMOM Productions.

"Chicago is long overdue for a massive, festival-type event with international headliners in a location that can potentially host tens of thousands of people in a concert setting. The opportunity and need for an event like this has been present for decades. Finally, it is happening.

"Working with the city is never easy and definitely not free, so I hope city leaders will look at this event and partner with the organizers to help cut costs in the future. Hopefully, in a couple years, more corporate sponsorships will be in place for Pride In The Park so the event can expand its offerings to have multiple stages featuring Chicago's vibrant local talent and different types of music or performances."

Pride In The Park is nine hours of top-notch performances, "and we are also hoping to have interactive areas and artwork around the festival," Carpenter confirmed.

"We're very lucky here in Chicago to have an array of Pride events, and yes, some of them are free. The Chicago Pride Parade is free; Navy Pier Pride is free, and Pride Fest Chicago is only a $10 suggested donation."

KC Ortiz added, "Expanding Pride weekend to such a fabled Chicago location as (Grant Park), I think it's a cool idea. We still have the Pride in Boystown, so adding another event just adds to the fun."

After a few weeks, Carpenter said ticket sales "have been great."

Tier 1 of the VIP tickets is almost sold out, GoPride.com has confirmed.

"Grant Park is in the heart of downtown Chicago and provides a picture-perfect backdrop of the city's skyline," Carpenter said. "It's very exciting to be hosting this event in one of the most iconic locations in all of Chicago, and it shows how accepting and welcoming the city is.

"Boystown is, and always will be, an important center for the Chicago LGBTQ+ community, but holding this event downtown will amplify the message that the entire city supports the LGBTQ+ community."

Pride In The Park is expected to draw 10,000 – and the Center on Halsted is one of their charity partners.

"I think it's very important for companies and events to have a positive impact on their community," Carpenter said. "Center on Halsted provides indispensable services to the LGBTQ+ community, and we are very proud to be partnering with them."

Carpenter confirmed that tickets are being donated to Center on Halsted "that they will distribute to underprivileged youth LGBTQ+ and their families," he said.

In addition, members of Stonewall Sports Chicago will be working all the beer booths, and they will donate their tips to Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago's Gender & Sex Development Program.

"Our goal in this first year is to create an amazing experience for attendees and to make their 2019 Chicago Pride something they will always remember," Carpenter said.