Elgin's first Pride Parade and Festival hopes to make everyone feel 'safe and welcome in our space'

Four years after planning started, Elgin's first Pride Parade and Festival is set to step off on June 3.

Event organizer Kayla Bates founded ELGbtq+ after moving to Elgin in 2018 and asking if there were any Pride events.

“I basically got a lot of, 'No. Go to Chicago,'” Bates said.

So Bates, who has a background in event planning, started organizing some monthly meetup and hang-out events and made a Facebook page for ELGbtq+.

“There are younger LGBTQ folks in their late teens or 20s, or even in their 30s, around here who've never known other queer people. They've never had that community,” Bates said. “People were really finding their place and finding their community. It was a really beautiful thing to see.”

In 2019, the group started to plan its first Pride Parade and Festival for 2020. The pandemic put it on hold and kept it there until this year.

Bates said they've been intentional in their messaging to let people know that this will be a family-friendly event.

“I love Chicago's Pride festival, but it's not always necessarily a family environment,” they said. “What we're doing is not risque. We are trying to really build a community of all ages and make everyone feel safe and welcome in our space.”

The parade will begin and end near Festival Park at 11 a.m., heading north up Riverside Drive and back south down Grove Avenue.

The festival will follow at the park from noon to 4 p.m., featuring numerous vendors, food, activities and live music all day.

Other related smaller events will take place downtown over the weekend, including a drag show at Martini Room that evening.

So far they have about 40 groups lined up with entries for the parade. The deadline to enter the parade or sign up as a vendor is May 3.

Information about the event and registration can be found at

The event is one of the first to take advantage of the city's new cosponsorship program, which is intended to help offset the cost of hosting large event outdoor events like this.

“It's really been mutually beneficial and I think it's going to create a lot of opportunity for grass-roots groups to do things like this,” Bates said.

Bates said the reaction to ELGbtq+ has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“Watching people sort of blossom and become comfortable with their identity and feel welcome in the space they live in has been really rewarding,” Bates said. “I hope that continues and grows. I hope awareness and visibility continue to grow in our community.”

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