In the heart of Downtown Cleveland, there is a festival on Saturday, June 17, 2023, celebrating the liberation of Black people and the heritage of Black citizens in Cleveland. Join in on the family-friendly events and commemorate this year’s Juneteenth from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm on Mall C. Don’t forget the community fireworks on Friday, June 16 starting at sundown. Gates open at 6:00 pm.
Over 10,000 people have consistently attended the Metrohealth Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest since its inception. Visitors have enjoyed entertainment from 100 artists, musicians and performers. What has become an annual event for Cleveland has its roots back on June 19, 1865 when the Civil War officially ended and the freedom of enslaved people could be celebrated throughout the United States. This second Independence Day came to Cleveland in 2020 after the public protests and Cleveland’s acknowledgement of racism as a public health crisis.
Saturday, June 17, 2023
Breakfast: Head over to Home Of The Chicken & Steak Potato, CMB SoulFood for breakfast sandwiches or some home-style cooking with grits and waffles. If you’re looking for something more hearty, try their loaded fries options, stuffed potatoes, or rice bowls.
Morning: As you make your way Downtown, stop at Cleveland Cultural Gardens and visit the African American Garden. Early visitors can peacefully walk through the Doorway of No Return and reflect on architecture structured to remind us of the past, present, and future of Black people in this country.
Lunch: Everyone needs some good fried food on a day out, especially a holiday. Like the name suggests, The Crispy Chick on Woodland Avenue serves chicken with recipes free of MSG and other additives, and sauces based on original recipes.
Stop and stay for a while at BLK PunX Press Studio on 4701 Perkins Avenue for the Mx. Juneteenth: A Black & Queer Liberation Celebration. This communal event honors Juneteenth through the Black queer feminist framework. It’s that alternative safe space that Pride Month seekers may enjoy while still centering on abolition, anti-bigotry, and solidarity.
Dinner: Make Soul Food Row your first stop at Metrohealth Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest and your dinner table by purchasing from local Black businesses. Find your new favorite dish at the festival’s best eats.
Evening: Mix it up at the festival with the Cleveland Charge on this stop of their Summer Tour. If shopping is more your speed, visit the Vendor Village full of Black-owned businesses and pop-ups selling their creations and services. Check out the Festival’s Main Act.
Late Night: The Gray Area Bistro and Ultralounge on 17001 Euclid Avenue always has something going on. Open until 2 am, it will most certainly have an event this Saturday. Yet to be seen whether it will be Juneteenth, Pride, Father’s Day or a combination.
Sunday, June 18, 2023
Brunch: If you’re making a weekend out of the holiday—which you should, wake up for brunch at Southern Cafe on 11817 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. Chef Tony Fortner puts a twist on classics like his Chicken and Waffles with red velvet waffles. There’s also an appetizer called a Soul Roll that he’s well known for.
Afternoon: Head on over to University Heights for The 2nd Annual University Heights Juneteenth Celebration at Walter Stinson Community Park on Fenwick Road. Check out Black-owned businesses and live music. There will be two performance stages with the main stage hosting live musical acts headlined by legendary Cleveland hip-hop artist Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. The secondary stage will have exercise lessons, financial literacy talks, and other community chats.
Dinner: Just like its sign outfront, you’ll be licking your lips after eating at Muncheez on Buckeye Rd. With comfort food made from scratch, customers know they’re in for that good good. Try the Chicken and Steak Dirty Fries or their Crispy Wing Dings.
Evening: Learn how to dance or drum at the 14th Annual Juneteenth African Dance & Drum Festival hosted by Djapo Cultural Arts Institute. Take part in Guinea dances, Haitian dances, and Malian dances. While this event does go on all weekend, participants should sign up to maintain availability.