Smile Politely

Pride weekend ahead!

Tuesday, August 16th: Trivia Night

Boltini Lounge‘s regularly scheduled trivia night will have a special evening with Fest-themed trivia. Enjoy Bolitini’s signature drinks and their expanded menu while testing your Pride knowledge!


Friday, August 19th: Dinner and a Movie

Boltini will officially kick off Pride weekend by offering a special three-course dinner for only $20. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and the meal begins at 7:30, with entertainment throughout the evening. Reservations are required, as seating is limited.

After dinner, walk one block north to the Art Theater to see the film Kaboom, which was awarded the first-ever Queer Palm at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival for its contribution to queer issues. Tickets are $7 each and the film only screens once, at 10:00 p.m. Friday night.

Official trailer:


Also on Friday, a Youth Pride Party will be held from 8:00–10:00 p.m. at the Independent Media Center in Urbana. There will be a DJ, snacks, and a “show your pride” contest.


Saturday, August 20th: Pre-Pride and Co-Pride activities

Amara Yoga & Arts will host Social Heroes and Change Makers Community Collaborative Painting from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Participants will help paint portraits of Harvey Milk, Keith Haring, Gertrude Stein, and other world figures who have made significant contributions to LGBTQ activism. This event is free and open to the public, and will take place on the sidewalk in front of Amara at Lincoln Square Mall.

Raw Art Tour will be held in the parking lot at Lincoln Square during the pride festival. Participants can partake by performing or teaching any form of art including music, screen printing, origami, book binding, etc. To learn more or to contact Raw Art creator to participate, visit the Facebook invite.


Saturday, August 20th: CU Pride Fest: Pride Makes It Better

The festival is free and open to the public and begins at 4:00 p.m. at Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana. A family-welcoming atmosphere that includes children’s games, local booths, and entertainment runs until 7:00 p.m. The festival continues until 9:00 p.m. with more food, arts, performers and booths geared toward the community. The after party kicks off at 9:00 p.m. and promises entertainment for those of the over-19 variety until 2:00 a.m. at 88 Broadway in Lincoln Square.



Smile Politely had a chance to sit down with CU Pride Fest organizers Evelyne Tardy and Caroline Nappo to learn a little bit more about the history of the festival, and what we can expect this year.

Smile Politely: It still surprises me that this is only the Pride Fest’s second year. How did this festival get started?

Caroline Nappo and Evelyne TardyEvelyne Tardy and Caroline Nappo: What later became Pride was a series of community events before it was an official UP Center-sponsored event. Individuals in the community had come together and organized a marriage equality rally in downtown Champaign to protest Proposition 8 in 2009. Seventy-five to one hundred people attended the rally at the Susan B. Anthony commemorative fountain near Jim Gould’s.

After the rally, we saw some more momentum in the desire to organize more queer-friendly events and activism. With the founding of the Uniting Pride (UP) Center in early 2010, many of these people who had been involved in Pride discussions now had a place to put their energy. We began the process in May last year and ended up having a wildly successful Pride Fest in August. We started planning much earlier this year.

SP: When I think “Pride Festival,” I think outdoors, parades, and visibility. What went into the decision to have the festival completely indoors?

ET and CN: The unpredictable weather in Champaign-Urbana is one reason, but it is more cost-effective to have it indoors. Some people have had reservations about having it indoors, worrying it may diminish the festiveness or expressing concerns about it not being as “out.” But once we were [in the Lincoln Square space] last year and set it up, we were all really happy and impressed with how the space was transformed.

Part of being queer is being different and not necessarily fitting in — not that it needs to be glorified, but it’s an important part of our community, to provide a space for everyone to enjoy that part of our culture. So we will still have plenty of the fun energy you can expect from a Pride Festival, especially during our after-party at 88 Broadway.

SP: Is the festival geared more toward full time Champaign-Urbana residents, or University students?

ET and CN: Instead of having it in June during Pride month, when many other cities hold their festivals, we have it in August to welcome the students, as well as Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding communities. We also work closely with the University’s LGBT Resource Center.

The UP Center’s mission is clearly defined; we collaborate with the campus community, but also have our own mission that is distinct enough. We want to include youth, students, adults, and families from the community — we want to include everyone, and our variety of sponsors, vendors, and performers reflects this. It’s been very positive, no clashing of communities at all.

SP: How supportive has the general Champaign-Urbana community been in welcoming the Pride festival, outside of the sponsors, vendors, and volunteers?

ET and CN: We had a lot of positive feedback last year, and if there were any plans for negativity at or toward the festival, we didn’t see anything carried out. There have been many great sponsors, volunteers, and overall supporters — and we have been gaining momentum with the increased involvement this year.

SP: What can we expect from this year’s festival overall, and what changes are there from last year?

ET and CN: We have two stages and a catwalk runway, which will add more to our entertainment. One stage will be for acoustic performances. We’ll have other “street performance” style entertainment, as well as face painting, games for children, great food, arts, and local businesses and community organizations.

Some of our performers include Desafinado, Amasong, and Carnivàle Debauche among many others. We’ll have many local booths and sponsors, including the east-Central Safe Schools Alliance (eCISSA), Twin City Derby Girls, Planned Parenthood, Ippatsu Salon, McKinley Church, Jane Addams Book Shop, WEFT, and Acorn Equality Fund. Artists of every genre will also be displaying their work.


Some pics of returning performers and sponsors from last year’s festival:

Leiloni Stars: Mistress of Ceremonies

DJ Randall


east-Central Safe Schools Alliance

Carnivàle Debauche


SP: Why is it important for everyone to check out this festival, even for those who may not identify as Queer or Allies?

ET and CN: This is part of our community, so it’s a great opportunity to explore this part of Champaign County. Just like going to any other cultural festival, this is an immersion experience of getting to open your mind, even if you don’t consider yourself queer-identified.


To recap: There are several activities coinciding with Pride this week. Once you get to the festival, be sure to bring the family from 4:00–7:00 p.m., then take the kids to a sitter so you can enjoy the action-packed after-party until 2:00 a.m.! For more information visit

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