Kewanee will host its first pride festival this summer.

The idea came about after Kewanee mayor Gary Moore relaunched the commission on human relations department to represent everyone in the city. City leaders want to provide community events representing people of different cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations. However, some people in the community are concerned about the message the festival sends.

Members of the Commission of the Human Relations department say the festival is intended to spread awareness. They say the announcement of the festival has led to remarks from local religious leaders, but the main goal of the festival is to educate others.

City co-chair member Kasey Mitchell said it is essential for members of the LGBTQ community to be represented. “Even in the faith communities, there is still a need to love everyone, Mitchell said. “This is just a way that the commission can do our part to let everybody know no matter what you are, no matter who you are, you are loved, and we want to make sure you are represented in the town.”

August Wolf is the co-chair of the city’s commission on human relations that’s putting on the festival. He said despite what people say, it’s important to represent local members of the LGBTQ community. “I think it’s important for awareness because a lot of times people don’t like something because they’ve never seen it before or they’re just unfamiliar with the concepts that go behind it,” Wolf said. “Having an event so we can be like, hey, we’re here, we’re just chilling like, you know, we’re not trying to hurt anybody, we’re not trying to shove anything on anybody no agendas or anything like that, but just the agenda of love and acceptance.”

Kewanee pastor Justin Rumley has spoken out against the festival. Although he says he has no hate towards anyone, he believes events like this are divisive and offensive. “I understand where they’re coming from, and I believe they have the best of intentions, but again, it shouldn’t be surprising as a Christian and a pastor that I’m always going to submit to what Jesus has to say, and therefore I don’t think this is wise,” Rumley said. “I don’t think this is a festival we should be attracting young children to, and we already have things in Kewanee that bring everyone together.”

Pastor Rumley said he’s prepared to face backlash about his viewpoints but believes it’s his duty to share them. “I love you, but also many times we make sinful choices that are harmful,” Rumley said. “So my heart, I strive to have the same heart of Jesus, so just as Jesus came to speak truth and love, so, too, I’m striving to do the same.”

The festival will be held on June 10th from 12 to 6 pm at North East park in Kewanee.
There will be food trucks, entertainment, and music. For more information, click here.