Dixon Pride festival draws thousands to Page Park

Calandra Vasquez (left) and Linsey Hepker, both of Sterling, watch a performance Saturday, June 15, 2024 at Dixon Pride Fest.

DIXON — Alivia Schmidt couldn’t remember the last time she’d smiled as much as she did Saturday.

“I’m having a blast,” said Schmidt of Polo, who was among the thousands of people gathered at Page Park in Dixon for the third annual Dixon Pride. “I’m loving it. This is my first one [Pride festival].”

Allie Cook, of Rock Falls, and Cece Marruffo, of Sterling, both noted what they felt was an increase in attendance over the 2023 event.

“I love how this has, like, expanded a lot more,” Cook said. “It’s awesome to see way more people involved.”

Turnout was great and the event ran smoothly, Sauk Valley Pride President Andrew Glasscock said. In a June 17 interview, he said the final attendance count came in right around 4,000 people.

“Last year, we had about 4,500 with free admission,” Glasscock said. “This year, with $5 admission, we were right at the 4,000 mark. We’re super excited.”

Pride festivals celebrate LGBTQ+ people. LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and/or questioning, plus other sexual and gender minorities. Dixon Pride is organized by Sauk Valley Pride, a nonprofit organization formed in 2022 after the city’s inaugural event.

Around 2,000 people attended the first Dixon Pride, said emcee Barbara Busch Light. Barbara Busch Light is the entertainment director for Dixon Pride.

“To see that growth in just a year, and then this year has been just absolutely insane amazing as well,” she said. “I absolutely love being a part of it. … It takes a village to put it together, but the payoff is just so worth it.”

Dixon Pride was held in front of Val’s Place its first year, but moved to Page Park in 2023 to accommodate more people and vendors.

“We love it,” Glasscock said of the locale. “It’s a huge venue, tons of room to spread out, have a wonderful Pride Month and enjoy Dixon Pride.”

Have a Question about this article?
Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner reports on Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties for Shaw Media out of the Dixon office. Previously, she worked for the Record-Eagle in Traverse City, Michigan, and the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.