'We wanted more than just a parade': High hopes for inaugural Naper Pride Fest

High hopes for Naper Pride Fest

  • The first Naper Pride Fest will take place this weekend at Naperville's Naper Settlement.

    The first Naper Pride Fest will take place this weekend at Naperville's Naper Settlement. Courtesy of Ken Mejia-Beal

  • The Naper Pride organization was formed with the goal of celebrating inclusivity for everyone in Naperville.

    The Naper Pride organization was formed with the goal of celebrating inclusivity for everyone in Naperville. Courtesy of Ken Mejia-Beal

 
 
Updated 9/10/2021 7:32 AM

When the Naper Pride organization was formed a few years ago, one of its goals was to celebrate inclusivity for everyone in Naperville.

The celebration becomes official this weekend.

 

The first Naper Pride Fest will take place Saturday and Sunday at Naper Settlement with plans for food, music and a bunch of family-friendly activities. With proceeds from the event earmarked for charity and ideal weather expected, organizers are looking forward to taking LGBTQ+ pride to another level.

"We wanted more than just a parade," said Ken Mejia-Beal, one of the organizers. "Parades are fun but we wanted something different. We wanted a fest. We wanted live music and food and beer. We wanted to do something big."

The planning began in 2019 with hopes of debuting Pride Fest in 2020. After postponing multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers ultimately pushed the event to 2021.

"We finally are getting to do it now, and it's exactly what we envisioned it to be," Mejia-Beal said. "It's just a little later than we planned."

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The event runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. A one-day ticket costs $15 for adults while a two-day pass is $25.

Seniors and veterans receive a discount, children 6-years-old and younger will be admitted free and VIP tickets are available for $125.

Ten musical acts are slated to perform, highlighted by a Thelma Houston show at 8:40 p.m. Saturday. Food and beer vendors will be on hand, but the family-friendly event also includes face painters, arts and crafts booths and other activities for kids.

Organizers have arranged to have free COVID-19 testing and vaccinations available near the entrance of the Naper Settlement.

Mejia-Beal said the money raised will benefit local charities that focus on homelessness and hunger.

"We've gotten a lot of positive responses from people who like what we're doing," Mejia-Beal said. "Something like this isn't common."

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