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Celebrating Juneteenth in Salt Lake City

Jun 19, 2023, 11:11 AM | Updated: 9:16 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — For Utahns who have a personal connection to Juneteenth, they’re inviting the community to join in on the celebrations in Salt Lake City.

“The hope is to have a continual celebration and to be able to utilize this as an opportunity to celebrate the joy we experience as a nation,” Cleopatra Balfour, Salt Lake County small business assistance manager said.

She is one of the organizers of Salt Lake’s Juneteenth celebration.

They kicked things off Monday by walking from the Utah Capitol to the Gateway at 10:30 a.m.

That’s where people can check out the black-owned business expo. About 50 vendors with diverse backgrounds will be set up to showcase their businesses.

“Anything from medical professionals with the Black Physicians of Utah all the way to our artisan bakers that do vegan bakery like eats bakery,” Balfour said.

Balfour said the expo has grown in attendance over the past two years, and she’s hopeful more economic opportunities will bring in more businesses and increase access for Utah’s underserved communities.

“Juneteenth is a time when we come together and celebrate the emancipation,” Lavarro Greer said.

This day holds some deep meaning for a lot of people here especially given it took so long for the day to be recognized as a national holiday.

“…Something that so many people have been waiting a very long time for, it’s a very joyous occasion,” Balfour said.

This was only the third year since Juneteenth was made a national holiday and only the second year it’s been recognized as an official state holiday in Utah.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Mary Daniels said. “I was one of the ones who helped start Juneteenth here in Salt Lake City. It’s a success story, you know. We’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go.”

On this day, organizers hoped everyone would reflect on the history, all while taking to celebrate change and progress.

“…Because we can’t move forward until we recognize what were the things that were keeping us back,” Balfour said.

“We believe that everybody has an equal opportunity not just around the globe, but especially here in Utah,” Greer said.

The free celebration at the Gateway starts at noon and goes until 10 p.m. Monday night. There will also be an art exhibit, food trucks, music, entertainment and even roller skating.

For more info, click here.

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Celebrating Juneteenth in Salt Lake City