1st Ever Jacksonville Pride Event Happening Saturday at Water’s Edge Winery

By Jeremy Coumbes on June 15, 2023 at 5:58pm

An event that is the first of its kind for Jacksonville will be held this weekend. The 1st Jacksonville Pride event will be held at the Wine Barn at the Water’s Edge Winery & Bistro this Saturday.

Jacksonville native Blaize Stewart says the event started out as a small family barbecue after they stopped going to large events in Chicago following the pandemic.

And after the first couple of years of having that pride barbecue in my parent’s backyard, we heard from other people in the community, some of my family’s coworkers or friends, that they would be really interested in participating in an event like that.

There just wasn’t one in Jacksonville, so we kind of decided to expand it and open it up to the public. Kind of expand the barbecue and make it more of an informational event, adding a charity component and inviting our community members to a safe space to be seen and heard and just to learn a little bit and just connect with members of the LGBTQ+ community who live in Jacksonville.”

Stewart says the event will be a low-key time for fun as well as learning for anyone who wants to attend. “It’s just going to be some yard games and some music. We’ll have some informational posters explaining the history of Pride, some common terms, and some notable LGBTQ individuals, just to give people kind of a baseline of understanding if they don’t have one.

There will also be a few tables from local organizations like the SAGE Project, Mid-West Youth Services, and the Crisis Center, it will be a very low-pressure event. We’ll have a photo booth for photos. Just a pretty low-key just expanded version of the barbecue for people to come together and connect.”

The Jacksonville Pride event is free to attend. Stewart says there is a suggested donation of $5.00 with all of the proceeds going to the Illinois Equality Institute, a non-profit organization aimed at empowering LGBTQ people across the state to get involved in their communities.

Jacksonville Pride is this Saturday from 2:00 to 7:00 pm at the Water’s Edge Winery. The Leo’s Pizza on Wheels truck will be there from 4:00 to 7:00 pm.

Stewart says he and his family are excited to be organizing the event, and says they are viewing it as a learning experience as they welcome feedback from the community to incorporate into future events.