Student Newsroom

C-U community celebrates at annual Pride Fest vendor fair and parade


Community members play with bubbles at Uniting Pride's annual Pride Fest parade and vendor fair. Attendees and vendors said they were happy to be back in-person for this year's events. Farrah Anderson

URBANA, Ill. — The annual Pride Fest parade and vendor fair, hosted by Uniting Pride, took place in downtown Urbana on Sept. 25.

Both attendees and vendors said they were happy to be back in-person this year after virtual activities in 2020.

The parade and vendor fair were part of Uniting Pride’s Pride Week.

It’s a week of programming, events and entertainment aimed at “celebrating LGBTQ+ communities in Champaign County,” according to Uniting Pride’s website.

The fair featured local LGBTQ-owned businesses and other organizations. 

Sarah Fleming, owner of The Pipe Dream Salon, said she’s been attending the Pride Parade for a decade. This is her first year as a vendor.

“Getting to be in the same space as other queer people in this sort of celebration setting is, like, really empowering,” Fleming said.

This year’s theme was “What the Health? Fighting, Surviving, Thriving” 

Organizers said they centered the event around health through the COVID-19 pandemic and honored the 40th anniversary of the 1980s AIDS crisis.

Health organizations and partners like McKinley Health Center, Carle Hospital and the Greater Community AIDS Project attended  the vendor fair.

Charrice Jones is a student journalist with the llinois Student Newsroom at Illinois Public Media.