JUNETEENTH, a day that commemorates the emancipation of those enslaved in this country, is a special celebration for many. This is the second year that Juneteenth will be recognized as a federal holiday. Indy, once again, joins the party with exciting events to bring Black Hoosiers and their allies together. Here’s your non-exhaustive guide on how to make the most of Juneteenth in the Circle City.
Indy Juneteenth Festival
Looking for a big, vibrant festival? Look no further than Saturday’s Indy Juneteenth Festival hosted by Indy Juneteenth Inc. from noon–6 p.m. at White River State Park. The event has something for everyone: live music, games for children, DJs, vendors, and so much more. Don’t forget to wear stretchy pants as you indulge in the yummy cultural food provided at the festival. Want to learn more about the history of Juneteenth? Then this is the place to be, as the event will include a parade full of community organizations and local businesses, sharing the importance of Juneteenth with Hoosiers. 801 W. Washington St., 317-591-9019, indyjuneteenth.com
This year’s Juneteenth is undoubtedly extra special as none other than Indianapolis native and 12-time Grammy Award–winning singer Babyface is back to his roots with a concert. Don’t miss the chance to see him live as he kicks off the Madam Walker Legacy Center Juneteenth celebration on June 17. If you thought this couldn’t get any better, MWLC is also hosting a two-day block party on June 18 and 19 from noon–5 p.m. featuring Grammy Award–winning gospel singer Karen Clark Sheard. There are only a few tickets left, so grab them here before they’re gone. 617 Indiana Ave., 317-236-2099, madamwalkerlegacycenter.com
Juneteenth Foodways Festival
This Juneteenth event on June 17 won’t disappoint anyone, especially foodies. Don’t miss out on grabbing some grub at Juneteenth Foodways Festival from 4–8 p.m. at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. This food fest honors Laura “Dolly” Johnson, a former slave from Kentucky who became the head chef for President Benjamin Harrison’s White House in December 1889. The festival will feature bites from over 25 of your favorite Black-owned restaurants in Indy, like Black Leaf Vegan, Black Lemon, and more. The event is free, but you are encouraged to RSVP by clicking here. 1230 N. Delaware St., 317-631-1888, bhpsite.org
Jazz Community Celebration
If you’re looking for an event that combines Black history with art and music, then the Eiteljorg Museum’s much-anticipated Juneteenth & Jazz is the perfect spot for you. Get ready for a lively storytelling and folk song performance from Freetown Village Singers, actors in character as civil rights leaders from history, and art activities. Admission is free, so all you need is some fun spirit and a friend—or two. 500 W. Washington St., 317-636-6378, eiteljorg.org
For those who would like to feast upon amazing food while immersing themselves in tons of educational resources, Asante Art Institute of Indianapolis has an event for you.
On June 19 from noon–5 p.m., head to the Juneteenth Eastside Celebration: honoring fathers, families, and freedom to relish Congo Square drumming in a vibrant atmosphere. The event also features IUPUI professor and poet Lasana Kazembe and community leader and attorney Fay Williams. The closing ceremony, In Search of Hope and Restoration, will include a call to action hosted by Witherspoon Presbyterian Church. To RSVP for this free event, click here. Warren Performing Arts Center, 9500 E. 16th St., 317-532-6280, wcperformingarts.com
Freedom Music Festival
It’s not every day that you get to boogie to a variety of different artists all in one place, so don’t miss the Indiana Juneteenth Freedom Music Festival at the Old National Centre this Friday at 6 p.m. The music festival will feature a variety of artists, such as American funk band Zapp, the Original Lakeside, Average White Band, the Bar-Kays, Klymaxx, Circle City Band, Trouble Funk, and Ebony Rhythm Funk Campaign. Grab your tickets here. 502 N. New Jersey St., 317-231-0000, oldnationalcentre.com
Book Fest & Juneteenth Celebration
If you’re a bookworm, we’ve got you covered on June 18. The Center for Black Literature & Culture’s 5th Annual Indy Book Fest and Juneteenth Celebration will offer a glimpse of the African-American experience through arts, literature, and storytelling at Central Library from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. The event will feature Harvard professor Annette Gordon-Reed virtually, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. She will present on Black issues and facilitate a discussion, which will hopefully help you learn more about the importance of Juneteenth. 40 E. St. Clair St., 317-275-4100, indypl.org