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In the heart of Downtown Cleveland, there is a festival on Saturday, June 18 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 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm on Mall C.
Last year, over 10,000 people attended and 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.
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. CMB is participating in carryout at 12503 Union Ave. or you can order delivery through DoorDash.
Morning: As you make your way Downtown, stop at Cleveland Cultural Gardens and visit the African American Garden. A Juneteenth Celebration starts at 11 a.m. but 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: When your appetite strikes, visit the newest location for The Sauce: Boiling Seafood Express in Downtown Cleveland at 1266 W 6th St. and get your fill of bowls, bags, and five special sauces. Taste the success in this Black-owned business’s crawfish and crab dishes. Experience the Wolfie Bowl filled with shrimp, lobster, sausage, corn, potatoes, and sauce. The Sauce is also participating with delivery and can be found on UberEats, Grubhub, Postmates, and DoorDash.
Make your way into Metrohealth Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest when it opens at noon. See Karamu House take the mainstage with ever-enduring, historic performances. This power-house of drama is recognized as the country’s oldest, Black producing theatre with 105 years under its belt and counting.
If shopping is more your speed, visit the Vendor Village full of Black-owned businesses and pop-ups selling their creations and services.
Dinner: It’s food trucks galore at the festival. Find dinner for the whole family from this year’s selection.
Evening: See the Festival’s Main Act and finale with fireworks at 8 p.m.
Late Night: End the night with something sweet from Cathy’s at 401 Euclid Ave.. Her gourmet ice cream sandwiches are a great way to end a summer night. For those that want to keep the party going, sip martinis on the rooftop bar of The Velvet Dog.
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 have red velvet waffles. There’s also an appetizer called a Soul Roll that he’s known for.
Afternoon: Head on over to University Heights for another Juneteenth celebration at Walter Stinson Community Park on Fenwick Road. Check out Black-owned businesses and live music. There will also be performances by All City Choir, DJ Marcus Alan Ward, and poet Raja Belle Freeman.
Dinner: Get spicy and kick it with jerk chicken for dinner at Taste of Jamaica on 5104 Mayfield Road in Lyndhurst. Get that good good oxtail or select a curry for a kick that’s sure to bring you back again and again.
Evening: Learn how to dance or drum at the 13th Annual Juneteenth African Dance & Drum Festival hosted by Djapo Cultural Arts Institute. This evening Afro-Brazilian dances, Mali dances, and Afro-Cuban dances. While this event does go on all weekend, participants should sign up to maintain availability.