Elgin’s Juneteenth festivities include Friday market, day-long celebration Saturday in Festival Park

Elgin’s Juneteenth festivities include Friday market, day-long celebration Saturday in Festival Park

Shirley Bassett wants Elgin-area children to understand the history and importance of Juneteenth — also known as Black Independence Day — so new generations can carry the tradition forward.

“The theme (this year) is, ‘What about the children,’” said Bassett, president of the African American Coalition of Kane County, which is organizing the Juneteenth Cultural Festival that for the first time will be held over two days — Friday and Saturday — in downtown Elgin.

“It’s not a question. It’s a statement,” she said. “We need the youth to come and embrace Juneteenth and show the world this is going to continue.”

It’s also a reminder that Black parents “really have to be vigilant about what they have to deal with on a daily basis and help encourage them through the rough times,” Bassett said.

Juneteenth is the annual celebration of June 19, 1865, the day on which the last part of the United States, Galveston, Texas, was officially informed of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the country’s last remaining slaves. It was declared a federal holiday in 2021.

Elgin’s celebration will begin with an expanded vendor lineup at the Downtown Elgin Market on Riverside Drive from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 14, followed by the festival from 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at Festival Park.

Gloria Casas / The Courier-News

Myeshia Sanders, owner of K’s Ultimate Vending, was among the vendors serving up food at the 2022 Juneteenth celebration in Festival Park. (Gloria Casas/The Courier-News)

The CULTUR5 Expansion Market will add about 20 Black-owned businesses to the regular vendor lineup, offering a diverse array of items, including food, arts, crafts and baked goods, as well as supplying a DJ for musical entertainment.

“It’s a way of trying to help businesses reach another level and encourage Black business ownership,” Bassett said.

The fun continues at 1 p.m. Saturday, with day-long festivities including music, live performances, art exhibitions, storytelling, vendors, food, history and family-oriented entertainment.

With children being the focus of this year’s festival, there will be an expanded kid’s zone with an escape room, interactive games, a reading corner and crafts.

Members of YWCA Elgin’s youth group will present poems and speeches by prominent Black Americans, like Harriet Tubman, Bassett said. The goal is to not only encourage children to learn about poetry and history but also to understand the struggles those famous figures experienced, she said.

Moor’s Brewing, a Black-owned brewery based in Chicago, is bringing its brew to the beer tent Saturday. Moor’s is among the 1% of black-owned brewing companies in the country, and another example of what black entrepreneurs can do, Bassett said. Their beer cans feature powerful and inspirational African American leaders, she said.

“It’s actually a good-tasting beer,” she said. “(And) even if you don’t drink beer, take one of the cans to keep.”

Other attractions include A Gospel Hour of Power with Living Gospel C.O.G.I.C. and Pastor Walter Blalark, a spoken word artist; Afro Beats with DJ Zulu; and the Moya Dance Group.

DJ Dre, DJ Roszay, and DJ Rodney B will provide music all day long. Eric Henry, known as DJ 3-13, also will take the stage, Bassett said.

“It’s just like a big family reunion, and it’s a fun time,” she said.

For more information, including a lineup of scheduled events, go to www.facebook.com/ElginILJuneteenth.

Gloria Casas is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.

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