CLEVELAND, Ohio – Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday just a year ago, but many Northeast Ohio towns and organizations already have established their own events and celebrations to mark the day.
Many Juneteenth events are set to take place this weekend, surrounding Sunday, June 19. The holiday marks the official end of slavery in the United States, honoring the date in 1865 when Union generals announced the end of the Civil War and freedom from slavery in Texas.
Celebrations include educational events, history walks, community gatherings, festivals, parades and more. Some are taking place for the first time ever, while others are established parts of local history.
Here are 22 local Juneteenth events to check out:
Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest
The second annual Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest will feature trumpet player and songwriter Keyon Harrold performing with R&B artist Bilal in a headlining spot. Plus, lots of other family-friendly fun: dance and theatrical performances, a vendor marketplace, live mural paintings, games and other activities – and, a fireworks show to wrap up the night. Free.
Mall C, Cleveland
Noon-10 p.m., June 18
Mx. Juneteenth: A Black and Queer Liberation Celebration
This Juneteenth festival, set to take place one day before Juneteenth itself, centers on Black LGBTQ Clevelanders. Expect music and drag performances, vendors, local dining options, a children’s entertainment area and more at Blk Punx Press. Donations of $7-$10 recommended.
4701 Perkins Ave., Cleveland
Noon-6 p.m., June 18
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
The community can gather at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s plaza for an entire day of events on the day before Juneteenth. The celebration will feature performances by 10k Movement Dance, Charity Barnes, Jul Big Green, the Rainey Institute and the Djapo Cultural Arts Institute. Free.
1100 E. 9th St., Cleveland
2-9 p.m., June 18
Coventry Village Juneteenth Celebration
Cleveland Heights’ Coventry Village neighborhood will host a massive Juneteenth festival, filled with live music, local shopping, a roller skating rink, arts performances and more. Acts like YaYa Bey, The Katy and Teamonade will perform, and 80 Black businesses will be featured in a market. The evening will wrap up with an outdoor movie showing of “Soul” at 9 p.m. Free.
Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights
1-9 p.m. June 19
Summit County Historical Society events
To kick off the weekend of Juneteenth, the front lawn of the Perkins Stone Mansion in Akron will host a Juneteenth edition of its Farm Fridays event series. Students in preschool through first grade, and second through sixth grade, can learn more about the holiday through “outreach discovery trunks,” provided through the Summit County Historical Society.
On Saturday, join the historical society for a community talk back, centered around the principles of Kwanzaa. A morning panel discussion will also feature a soul food cooking demonstration and an open house at John Brown House.
Finally, on Juneteenth itself, take a morning history hike to the John Brown Monument to learn more about the Northeast Ohio abolitionist that is its namesake.
Perkins Stone Mansion: 550 Copley Road, Akron
John Brown House: 500 Diagonal Road, Akron
John Brown Monument: enter at Akron Zoo for a hike, 500 Edgewood Ave., Akron
“Birth of a New Legacy: Juneteenth Celebration of Art” at Artful Cleveland
Local African American artists’ work will be on display at Artful Cleveland, in honor of Juneteenth. Check out colorful original creations by Barbara Huff, Darius Steward, Joyce Morrow Jones and more. The show was curated by LaSaundra Robinson.
2843 Washington Blvd., Cleveland Heights
Opening reception 6-9 p.m. June 17; open house 1-9 p.m. June 19
Joy Park Juneteenth Festival
Celebrate Juneteenth in Akron’s Ward 5 at Joy Park. The space will host a meet-and-greet event for residents on Friday night, and then its second-annual Juneteenth festival on Saturday.
Joy Park: 825 James Ingram Way, Akron
6-8 p.m. June 17 and Noon-6 p.m. June 18
Juneteenth African Dance & Drum Festival
Performers from Senegal, Guinea, Brazil, Mali and various U.S. locations will join Djapo Cultural Arts Institute for its 13th African Dance & Drum Festival. The conference event will host workshops on various cultural dances and drumming, showcasing capoeira, djembe drumming and more. A free dance class will kick off the day at 9 a.m. Workshops $20 each, with discount cards available for multiple classes.
Pivot Center, 2937 W. 25th St., Cleveland
9 a.m.-8 p.m., June 18
A parade featuring a drumline, African dancers and other performers will start at Spring Street Park and finish at the Underground Railroad Center, located behind McDonald’s on South Main Street. There, community members can enjoy games, raffles, face painting and food trucks. Expect a New Orleans Second Line styled parade, led by Oberlin College graduate Kevin Lewis. After the festival, the event will wrap up with a prayer and wreath placements at Potter’s Field.
Underground Railroad Center, Station Square (behind the McDonald’s on S. Main St., Oberlin)
9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. June 18
Juneteenth Celebration and Makers Market at Van Aken District
The Van Aken District teamed up with the Urban League of Greater Cleveland to host a Juneteenth Celebration and Makers Market. Shop around from more than 30 local vendors, and enjoy live music and a dance performance from Sha’Ran Studios. Free.
Van Aken District, Shaker Heights
10 a.m.-4 p.m., June 18
Juneteenth Community Festival in Canton
Canton will host a community festival for Juneteenth, featuring live performances, competitions, a kids play-land and other fun at Nimisilla Park. The event will take on the theme “One Puzzle – Many Pieces.” Free.
Nimisilla Park, Canton
10 a.m.-6 p.m. June 18 and noon-6 p.m. June 19
A Juneteenth Celebration at African American Cultural Garden
Head to the African American Cultural Garden, one of the newest parts of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, for a Juneteenth celebration that includes food, music, a youth talent contest and more. Free.
890 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Cleveland
11 a.m.-3 p.m. June 18
Juneteenth Celebration at Ursuline College
Ursuline College and the City of Pepper Pike teamed up for this family-friendly Juneteenth celebration, which features performances by The Cover Girls and Ikembe, along with a drumming circle, local vendors, face painting and more. An art exhibit titled “Juneteenth: The Freedom and Responsibility” will be on view in the Wasmer Gallery. Tickets $5.
Ursuline College, 2550 Lander Road, Pepper Pike
11 a.m.-3 p.m. June 18
Summit Lake Juneteenth Celebration
Stop by Summit Lake Park and Summit Lake Nature Center for plenty of Juneteenth programming this year. From 11 a.m.-1 p.m., hear from Dr. Philathia Bolton and Kwame Williams, and chat with various community organizations while enjoying free hot dogs. Later in the afternoon, the park and nature center will offer crafts, fishing and food specials for Juneteenth.
Summit Lake Park, 411 Ira Ave., Akron
11 a.m.-4 p.m. June 18
Juneteenth Dinner and Community Conversation
Guests can enjoy a dinner from Ernie’s, drinks from Perfect Pour and desserts from Sweet and Savvy Cake Shop at Lock 3 on June 18. During the meal, facilitators will get community discussions going around each table. Tickets $10
Immediately following the dinner, DJ Forrest “Getemgump” Webb and the Unit Band will perform a concert. Free, open to the public.
Lock 3, Akron
5-6:30 p.m. June 18
Rid-All’s “Guess Who’s Cooking” Juneteenth dinner
A multi-course “Guess Who’s Cooking” special event will take place at Rid-All’s community kitchen in honor of Juneteenth. The dinner includes a salad, potato soup, bruschetta, tilapia or cauliflower steaks, blueberry cobbler and a cocktail. Tickets $100, proceeds benefit Rid-All Green Partnership.
2889 E. 81 St., Cleveland
6-8:30 p.m. June 18
Gospel Meets Symphony at E.J. Thomas Hall
The Gospel Meets Symphony Choir will join the Akron Symphony Orchestra for a unique concert in honor of Juneteenth. Tickets $15-$60.
E.J. Thomas Hall, 198 Hill St., Akron
7:30 p.m. June 18
Medina’s first Juneteenth Celebration
A church service, food and vendors, entertainment and speakers will make up Medina’s first-ever Juneteenth celebration. The day’s programs were put together by the Second Baptist Church, Sister Circle Medina, the City of Medina and the Medina Diversity Project.
10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 19
24th Annual Juneteenth Festival
The West Akron Parade, hosted by the Buchtel Parent-Teacher Association, will start the 24th annual Akron Juneteenth Festival, presented by the Akron Black Coalition. Stepping off at Buchtel Community Learning Center, the parade will end at Stoner/Hawkins Park – and meet a festival there. Festivities include a Black business market, flag football games, the Gerald R. Carter Teen Talent Show, a balloon release and a car show. Free.
Stoner/Hawkins Park, Akron
Noon-7 p.m. June 19
South Euclid’s Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration
Garfield Memorial Church, MyCom and the City of South Euclid teamed up for a Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration that will include food trucks, local vendors, live music and spoken word.
Garfield Memorial Church South Euclid Campus, 1534 S. Green Road
1-5 p.m. June 19
University Heights Juneteenth Celebration
For the first time, University Heights will host a Juneteenth Celebration to celebrate freedom. The event will feature performances by Marcus Alan Ward, All City Choir, dancers and local poets like Raja Belle Freeman. WKYC reporter Kierra Cotton will emcee the event.
Walter Stinson Community Park, 2301 Fenwick Road, University Heights
1:30-8:30 p.m. June 19
2 Chefs and a Beat
This DJ and dining series will take over B-Side Lounge for a “late-night brunch” event on the evening of Juneteenth. Order food created by Chef Kris, Chef Herb and Vegan Vybez, and enjoy tunes by Savage Royale, Chop UFL, Corey Grand, Malik X, Sted Lee, Chelsea Pastel and Coo Johnson. Local Black businesses will also be showcased at the venue. Tickets free.
2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights
7-10 p.m. June 19
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Coventry Village’s Juneteenth celebration takes place on June 19, not June 18.
Get a jumpstart on the weekend and sign up for cleveland.com’s weekly “In the CLE” email newsletter, your essential guide to the top things to do in Greater Cleveland. It will arrive in your inbox on Friday mornings – an exclusive to-do list, focusing on the best of the weekend fun. Restaurants, music, movies, performing arts, family fun and more. Just click here to subscribe. All cleveland.com newsletters are free.
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment