Chicago Pride Fest planners get ready for new weekend

Thu. June 13, 2013 1:58 PM by Matt Simonette

miss foozie hosts chicago pride fest stage, 2011

photo credit // anthony meade

Chicago Pride Fest, Sat., June 22 - Sun., June 23

Chicago, IL - Pride month is in high gear, and organizers of Chicago's Pride Fest are getting set to launch their event, for the first time, a week before the Pride parade. The event takes place June 22-23.

Pride Fest had traditionally been a prelude to the parade, which is scheduled for June 30. Organizers believe the change will help alleviate congestion in Lakeview during June by allowing a "Pride Week" instead of weekend. Last year's Pride Parade drew over 850,000 people to the neighborhood.

About 50,000 visitors come to Pride Fest each year. Organizers hope that the new scheduling will pull in even more, said Sean Kotwa, Hydrate general manager and co-chair of the Northalsted Business Alliance organizing committee.

"We really wanted to create a high caliber, world-renowned event that Chicago can be proud of, which we're not able to do given only a day and half event that is followed by Chicago's Pride Parade," Kotwa told "This also offers us an opportunity to create a week long celebration of the GLBT community here in Chicago for a longer time period than just one weekend."

According to Kotwa, having a Pride Week bookended by the festival and the parade will not only draw more visitors to Chicago, but bring attention to the best aspects of both events.

"The parade serves as a platform for the community to both highlight our accomplishments as well as show the support from the various participants in the parade," Kotwa said. "I think it serves as a reminder for the accomplishments of those generations before us--it's important for that aspect to not be forgotten and we continue using the parade as a vehicle for change and equality. But Pride Fest serves as an outright celebration of those accomplishments."

Among the acts appearing at the festival are Aubrey O'Day, Jessica Sutta, Ultra Nate, Deborah Cox and Inaya Day, among many others. Kotwa called the line-up "cross-generational."

Related Interviews: Deborah Cox | Jessica Sutta

"I think we appealed to all ages with the main stage entertainment," he said. "Making sure that we have an exciting talent line-up is one of my top priorities. We want to make sure we're booking relevant artists as well as some of the classic favorites. Aubrey O'Day has received some very good national attention this year with the possible re-uniting of Danity Kane.  We brought back some of the most popular dance divas, such as Inaya Day and The Ladies of Livin Joy, that have been festival favorites for years."

"We are adding a few surprises along the way, but you'll have to come see those," Kotwa said, adding he hopes the community comes out and supports both the festival and the parade. "Both are such important events in our community and I think it's especially important, now more than ever, to show our strength in numbers to pass equal rights, not just in our own state, but nationwide."

Chicago Pride Fest is Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23. The 44th Annual Chicago Pride Parade is Sunday, June 30. Pride Guide. Follow us on Twitter @GoPride.

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