Sauk Valley Pride canceled for this year

A perfect storm of roadblocks led to the Rock Falls event being called off for this year.

ROCK FALLS – The first Sauk Valley Pride, set for Sept. 30, has been canceled for this year.

Gabriella McKanna, Sauk Valley Pride treasure said there were several factors in the cancellation.

The biggest issue was actually the liquor license, which can be tricky in Illinois. The organization ran into roadblocks in getting a license in both Sterling and Rock Falls.

“Our budget for one festival is usually around $20,000, and if we aren’t able to serve liquor at our festival, we would not get the attendance numbers needed to help cover those costs,” McKanna said.

There was also a misunderstanding of what a Pride event would entail.

“Plenty of people thought the drag show would be equivalent to a strip show, and I think we need to do a better job of helping the community understand what a family-friendly pride event looks like, even with drag performers,” she said.

But, McKenna said, the most surprising thing was the lack of enthusiasm. She wasn’t sure if it was because of when it was scheduled in September or if it was something else.

“With our Dixon event, we have vendors and sponsors knocking on our door before we even really start planning,” McKanna said. “With this event, we were actively soliciting vendors and sponsors to be at the event and were having a hard time getting local businesses engaged.”

With the point of no return approaching to plan a festival and the increasing roadblocks, Sauk Valley Pride opted to cancel for the year. The group only recently got non-profit status and without a lot of money saved already, one non-viable event would impact their ability to host future events.

“We did want to reassure everyone that there is not one single person or entity to blame for this, and we were definitely not facing threats of violence or protest,” McKanna said.

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