Here’s where to celebrate Juneteenth in Utah

Jun 16, 2023, 1:47 PM | Updated: 3:54 pm

The Juneteenth flag flies over City Hall...

FILE: Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall helped raise a Juneteenth flag at City Hall. (KSL TV)


SALT LAKE CITY — Juneteenth is now in its second year as a Utah state holiday — and Utahns will have no shortage of opportunities to celebrate this weekend.

The holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. — specifically the day the last enslaved African Americans learned that they had been freed.

It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that news of the abolition of slavery finally reached the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas. It was over 2½ years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and about two months after the Civil War ended.

The holiday originated in Galveston the next year, and celebrations eventually spread across the country before becoming a federal holiday in 2021.

This year, Utahns have a wide variety of opportunities to celebrate Juneteenth, ranging from an afternoon tea or brunch to music festivals and BBQs.

Festivals and celebrations

Salt Lake Juneteenth

This free, family-friendly event will be held Monday, June 19, at The Gateway in Salt Lake City from noon until 10 p.m. It will feature a Black-owned business expo, an art exhibit, food trucks, music, a kids’ corner, storytelling, roller skating and a barber battle.

Ogden’s Annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival

Now in its 34th year, the Ogden Juneteenth Freedom Festival will be held at the Ogden Amphitheater on Saturday and Sunday, starting at noon on both days. The free event will include live music and dance performance, food and educational exhibits highlighting the history of Juneteenth. Festivalgoers can also enjoy a basketball tournament, youth games, Crowns braid battle and a barber battle.

Freedom Day Music Festival

Salt Lake Community College is hosting a music festival Tuesday, June 20, 6-9 p.m., at its Redwood Campus in Taylorsville. The free event is open to the public and will feature food and live performances from David – Rapper, Changing Lanes, G Brown Quintet and Salt Lake City Mass Choir.

Riverton Juneteenth Celebration

The Riverton Library is celebrating Black culture and the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S. with a scavenger hunt, crafts and group art project. Participants can drop in anytime Saturday between 2-5 p.m.

Millcreek Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration

Millcreek’s Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration will be held Sunday at Millcreek Common from 4-10 p.m. — the event will include free skating, live performances, a spoken word contest, fashion show, art gallery, food trucks and prize giveaways.

Juneteenth Flag-Raising Ceremony

The University of Utah is hosting a Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony at the Park Building on Tuesday, June 20, at 9 a.m. The program will feature remarks from Ogden NAACP’s Betty Sawyer and Utah Rep. Sandra Hollins, who sponsored the bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday and is the first Black woman to serve in the state Legislature. The ceremony will also include a presentation on Juneteenth flag symbols, an ancestral libation toast and a spoken word performance by Youri Joseph.

Arts, education and entertainment

USU Alumni Band and the Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir performance

The Utah State University Alumni Band, the Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir and guest conductor Richard Walker are performing Sunday, 7-8:30 p.m. at the university’s Daines Concert Hall. The concert will highlight Black composers and soloists.

Juneteenth Summit: Wave of Freedom

The University of Utah is hosting a Juneteenth Summit with the theme “Wave of Freedom” on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building on the school’s Salt Lake campus. The summit will include a series of panels and presentations on Black excellence, achievement, education and freedom. Utah Black Chamber of Commerce’s Sidni Lloyd-Shorter will offer a keynote address. Presenters include the Black Physicians of Utah and the university’s Black Cultural Center and Black Student Union. Registration is free but required.

Juneteenth Gallery Talk

The Southern Utah Museum of Art is hosting a special tour of the art exhibit “Dream Deferred: New Perspectives on Black Experience in the Work of Aïsha Lehmann and Vitus Shell.” The tour will highlight themes relevant to the history and celebration of Juneteenth.

Polo G Juneteenth Benefit Concert

Platinum recording artist Polo G will be headlining a benefit concert and community gathering event in celebration of Juneteenth on Friday from 6-10 p.m. at The Gateway. Tickets range from $45 to $95.

AfroTribe Juneteenth Celebration

AfroTribe — a music group that celebrates the diverse cultures of the African diaspora through an Afrobeat and events series — is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a Juneteenth celebration Sunday at 7 p.m. at Ibiza Ultra Lounge in Salt Lake City.

Utah State University museum displays

Attendees can learn more about history by walking through museum displays highlighting Black and African American History as it relates to Utah State University and the state of Utah. Displayed artifacts are provided by the USU Library, Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, and the Utah Black History Museum. The exhibit is open Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the university’s TSC International Lounge.

Afrobeats and Amapiano Dance Boot Camp

Nonprofit GK Folks Foundation is hosting a dance booth camp on June 24 at En Pointe School of Ballet in West Jordan. The kid session is from 1-2:30 p.m. and the adult session is 3-6 p.m. The camp will teach participants traditional African dance movements with modern influences as well as the history and significance of Afrobeat. The event is free, but registration is required due to limited space.

Food and dining

Salt Lake City Mission BBQ

Salt Lake City Mission is hosting a free, kid-friendly Juneteenth event and BBQ at 10 a.m. on Friday at 1151 S. Redwood Road, Suite 106, in Salt Lake City.

Juneteenth Couture Afternoon Tea

Sit down at the International Peace Gardens on Saturday for an afternoon tea that will showcase African American historic delicacies and traditions as well as a fashion show. Tickets are $15. There is also a “pay what you want” option. Participants are invited to dress in their “finest afternoon attire,” with both dressy afternoon wear and national dress welcomed.

Brunch for The Culture

Utah Jazz reporter Nayo Campbell and artist Nailah Mansa are hosting “Brunch for The Culture” to celebrate the Black community in Utah. The event is 1-6 p.m. Sunday at Flanker Bar and Grill at The Gateway. Brunch, specialty cocktails, a live DJ, Sunday football, golf simulator and bowling alley will be available.

Common Thread Teen Community Cookout and Games

Common Thread Teen Community — a community for vulnerable teens — is throwing a free BBQ night with games and music. The event is Saturday, June 24, 4-7 p.m., at 1300 S. 2700 West in Riverton.

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Here’s where to celebrate Juneteenth in Utah