Pride Fest 2011 | Fest report
"Love is in this air!"
Miss Foozie said it best Friday night with her proclamation on stage as Chicago's Pride weekend kicked off at the 9th annual Pride Fest, sponsored by the Northalsted Business Alliance. Long story short, the fest is your typical food, drink and crafts affair with lots of sequined costumes and no shortage of that feeling--the love that you just can't escape in this community.
A $7 donation at the entrance will get you into Halsted heaven. The street is lined with your typical festival booths along with a surprising number of pet-friendly booths serving up dog treats and dog drinks to-go. Pets are definitely welcomed at Pride Fest, and will be celebrated in their own right on Saturday afternoon with Miss Foozie's very own Pride Pet Parade.
Take your time making your way through the booths and you'll notice some real gems--half naked, hairy men in bath towels promoting Steamworks, a cut out of Mayor Rahm Emanuel dress as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and a large trailer featuring a "tobacco exhibit" sponsored by Camel.
Pride Fest goes the extra mile to provide socially and politically conscious booths, with one rallying for the repeal of DADT and another promoting free HIV/AIDS testing.
The food is standard festival fare, with booths full of greasy pizza, a meatball or two, and Italian sausages (insert obvious pun here). The Kit Kat Lounge provides a few vamped up snacks, such as truffle fries, but it all settles just the same after 3 or 4 champagne slushies (get the strawberry). Drink booths also offer up a plethora of Barefoot wines and cocktails, including white and red sangria and mimosas for $6 a pop.
Both North and South stages are booked with solid acts like cover-band favorite Sixteen Candles and several popular GLBT artists. Deborah Cox rocked the crowd early in the evening with "Absolutely Not", which had the masses chanting along "I won't compromise my point of view, absolutely not."
The fun really started with the Pride Drag show, featuring performers from Halsted's best bars showing off their talents, for cash tips of course. A shockingly similar Lady Gaga look-alike stole the show with a mash-up of the GLBT queen's empowering hits. Be sure not to miss one of these shows Saturday, with one every other hour on the North Stage.
Gay, straight, bi-sexual, transexual--come one, come all to one of the most entertaining festivals Chicago has to offer this summer, running through Saturday and culminating with Sunday's infamous Pride Parade. I promise you'll leave this fest with at least a little more love.