Peoria’s River City Pride Fest returns next weekend

Attendees at the 2019 River City Pride Fest in Peoria. The festival returns to the Peoria Riverfront the weekend of July 15-17. Photo courtesy of River City Pride Fest.

The River City Pride Fest will return to Peoria’s riverfront after a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cassie Lucchesi, president of festival organizer Peoria Proud, said it would be a weekend of Pride this year.

The weekend kicks off with Pride Night with the Peoria Chiefs on Friday, July 15. The festival itself is on Saturday, July 16, going from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 17, will have the Drag and Paint Brunch at the Pair-A-Dice Casino.

Drag will be everywhere throughout the weekend, headlined by Jasmin Kennedie of RuPaul’s Drag Race 14. Along with a drag talent show for local youth on Saturday morning, local drag legends will be performing Saturday afternoon and the headline show starting at 8 p.m. The performances will be at the CEFCU Mainstage as will DJs Lady G and DJ Happy Accident, affirming religious community, Emily The Band and community awards.

A family zone will be open until 7 p.m. with a puppy parade, Drag Queen Story Hour, a drag performance and a magic show.

In the light of an attempted attack on an Idaho Pride event and the recent shooting at the Highland Park July 4th Parade, the festival is also taking security into account.

“There are concerns with the state of the nation,” Lucchesi said. “Everybody is on high alert.”

She said that security has been hired for the entire festival and there will be a police presence. There will be only one entrance for everyone to come through as well as several emergency exits. There will also be a free speech area for any protestors who choose to show up.

This year’s big sponsors are the Peoria City/County Health Department, Central Illinois Friends, Positive Health Solutions, Amren Illinois and Pair-A-Dice Casino. There is a total of 63 vendors this year along with adult beverages and food trucks.

“With the line-up we’ve got, it’s going to be really fantastic,” Lucchesi said.

Questions can be directed to the Pride Fest or Peoria Proud Facebook pages through Messenger. People can also email [email protected]. A full schedule is at the Pride Fest Facebook page.