BELLEVILLE, IL – If there’s one thing that Belleville, Illinois has perfected in the 200 years since its founding it is the all American street festival. From Oktoberfest to Art on the Square – the seasonal months are peppered with street parties drawing thousands to the shadow of the city’s historic fountain.


This Saturday, June 21, will mark the 7th annual Metro East PrideFest, produced by Metro East Pride of Southwestern Illinois. Myriad vendor booths from food and drink to businesses, non-profits, organizations and crafters will line West Main Street anchored by the main stage at the foot of the Square.



Metro East Pride was founded in 2008 with the vision of marrying the festive LGBT Pride celebration with Main Street U.S.A. While the annual event has grown substantially over the years, it still retains the intimate feel of the smaller town celebration and has proven a draw for LGBT revelers from both sides of the river.


A highlight of this year’s festival will be the marriage ceremony at the main stage as gay and lesbian couples from both Illinois and Missouri legally wed. Same-sex marriages were recognized statewide on June 1, 2014 and according to organizers, the couples are in for a special day complete with reception, champagne toast and cutting of the cake.


“We felt with the passing of marriage equality we had to do something to commemorate this exciting and truly historic event,” Allen Irby, President of MEPSI, a social and educational organization dedicated to advocacy and empowerment of the LGBT community. “What better way than legally marrying your partner at festival in front of everyone.” 


The entertainment lineup for this year’s festival will include the Gateway Men’s Chorus; CHARIS, the St. Louis Women’s Chorus, POWjr72 , Summer Osborne and the annual Festival Drag Show. Emcees for the main stage will be Dieta Pepsi and Michelle McCausland.


“Personally, I feel like this is our time,” concluded Irby. “I think of all the LGBT Couples who have come before us fighting for equality; we have finally been validated. We will celebrate pride and equality at PrideFest and beyond.”  



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