URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Uniting Pride hosted the 2023 Champaign-Urbana Pride Festival in downtown Urbana on Saturday.

The festival celebrated the LGBTQ community, along with Pride for those in the area. More than that, it celebrated a sense of community.

“We are always talking about the concept of chosen family, so we want to build that within our community, within the C-U area,” President of Uniting Pride Valena Hedin said. “Come to us, and we will be your community; we will help you build that community.”

University of Illinois Sophomore Jazmin Wilkins agreed that the festival packed strong community values into their celebration.

“To feel a sense of community amongst everyone, all different kinds of backgrounds, all different organizations, it’s nice for us all to be able to come together to celebrate this one thing,” Wilkins said.

Although Pride Month is in June, Hedin mentioned that holding the festival in the fall gives students a chance to express their pride.

“The main reason that we do have it in the fall is so that we can students attend as well,” Hedin said. “Because you know, obviously we want our community as a whole to enjoy Pride and campus is a big part of what makes C-U what it is.”

U of I students certainly took full advantage of the opportunity by packing the downtown streets for the festivities. They expressed excitement for the parade, the food, and a sense of belonging.

Nearly 140 vendors — most of which based locally — supported the event.