Juneteenth is back with in-person festivities this year. Here’s how you can celebrate in Denver

The day, which was just this year recognized as a Denver city holiday, is one step from becoming a national holiday.

Jadakiss plays a free show during Five Points' annual Juneteenth celebration, June 16, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Jadakiss plays a free show during Five Points' annual Juneteenth celebration, June 16, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Every year since the 1950s, Denver has hosted a Juneteenth celebration in Five Points, celebrating the anniversary of the day that slavery ended in the U.S with an annual parade and, in recent years, a music festival.

This weekend, just months after Denver officially recognized Juneteenth as a city holiday and in a time when the day is one step from becoming a national holiday, the festival is making its return to fully in-person activities, celebrating the holiday with events and programming like pop-ups, its annual music festival and parade, performance activations and “Black Pride” collaborations with Denver PrideFest.

To help you celebrate the day, here’s a roundup of official Juneteenth festivities happening this weekend, plus some Black-owned businesses to check out while you’re out and about.

THURSDAY

The Strange Fruit of Black Excellence Gala 

This year, Denver Pride pushed its events back a week so as not to compete with Juneteenth. The two groups have also collaborated on some “Black Pride” programming, including this event, a community celebration where guests are invited to wear all-Black attire and celebrate the work of community members. It runs from 6-10 p.m. at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

While you’re there: Grab a scoop at Smith+Canon Ice Cream co. on York St. and Colfax. 

 

FRIDAY

Juneteenth Eve Broadcast

Get excited for Juneteenth with a six-hour broadcast preview show hosted by JMF Corporation and Denver Community Media, which will feature live performance, entertainment and special guest appearances.

The broadcast will also air Denver Juneteenth’s annual #DreamBig award ceremony, which honors local community members who excel in their various fields. In the past, the ceremony has honored people like Rep. Leslie Herod, Cleo Parker Robinson, Welton Street Café co-owner Fathima Dickerson, DJ Cavem and Thomas ‘Detour’ Evans.  The 2021 nominees are not yet listed on the Juneteenth website, but an announcement is coming soon.

You can catch the broadcast from 2-8 p.m. via Denver Community Media TV channels, the Juneteenth Website or Juneteenth’s Facebook Live.

While you’re watching: Pick up some beers from Novel Strand Brewing Company in Baker and enjoy the show from your home. 

Juneteenth R&B Summer Kick Off

Nationally known R&B group 112 will headline an outdoor concert at The Levitt Pavilion in Ruby Hill Park. Guests can bring lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy live performances from 112, as well as local acts KDJ Above, The Grand Alliance and Rachel Bailey.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and start at $29.50.

 

 

SATURDAY

Juneteenth Parade

The parade is part of a decades-long annual tradition in Denver which, per Juneteenth Denver’s website, honors “the struggles and social progress achieved through marches and demonstrations organized for freedom, justice, and equality in our country’s history.”

Staging starts at 9 a.m. at Manual High School on 26th Avenue & Williams St. The parade itself starts at 11 a.m., at which time thousands of people will march down 26th to Welton Street in Five Points.

While you’re there: If you start out closer to Manual High School, grab a coffee and snacks at Whittier Café, a hip neighborhood coffee shop with an expansive patio. And if you find yourself on Welton St. craving coffee, pick some up at Coffee at the Point.

You can also stop for brunch at Mimosas, if you manage to get a table at this popular spot. 

Two-day Street Festival

On Saturday and Sunday, Juneteenth will take over ten city blocks, offering live music and entertainment, merchants, food vendors, interactive activities and a Kid Zone with activations from the Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche and the Colorado Rapids.

The Festival will also host activations at the Welton Street Corridor, Five Points Plaza and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theater, and will offer Black Pride events and performances from Charles Cousins Plaza.

Saturday’s festival runs from noon-8 p.m. Saturday performances start at 2 p.m. Here’s the lineup:

  • Danae Simone
  • 1-natVson-1
  • Dj Cyn
  • A Meazy
  • Check One’s Fonky Check’s Mix Band
  • DJ Dif’rent & DJ AUbreezy (Dynamic Daddy Daughter Duo)
  • DJ brother jeff’s cultural center experience
  • DJ Squizzy & Rob T Drummer Set
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff

While you’re there: Check out Welton Street Cafe for lunch and a warm welcome, or stop by TeaLee’s Teahouse for books and tea. 

Five Points of Culture

This year, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre will host three 90-minute roundtables. 

  • 10:00 a.m.: Afro-Futurism

Hosted by Dr. Brenda J. Allen, this discussion will be led by visiting speakers Senator James R. Coleman, Senator Rhonda Fields, and Representative Leslie Herod.

  • 12:00 p.m.: The Entertainment Industry in Black

Musician and educator JoFoKe will host this talk with guest speakers Anthony Harper, a TV producer; musician Devan Blake Jones; educator and dance and theatrical artist Jo Bunton-Keel; and Anisha Rush, a musician and educator. 

  • 2:00 p.m.: Black Business and Impact of Sports

This panel will be hosted by Charles Johnson, Vice President Diversity and Inclusion at Ball Corporation, and will feature guest speakers Camille Hammond, the Senior Vice President Kroenke Sports & Entertainment; Ronald Sally, Senior Vice President Sports & Entertainment, Higher Education JLL; Anthony Spikes, Director of Fund II Foundation;  and Former All-Pro NFL Athlete Alfred Williams.

Tickets cover all three events and run for $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for children.

While you’re there: Stop by the Juneteenth Pop-up Museum in CPRD’s lobby. Curated by Holly K. Hurd, the temporary exhibit celebrates Denver’s Juneteenth history. Saturday hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m.  

Dazzle at Baur’s

This weekend, the longtime Denver jazz and blues club will host special shows celebrating Juneteenth through music. At 6:30, you can catch Purnell Steen and The Five Points Ambassadors, a swing/blues band dedicated to honoring Five Points’ legacy. Later, at 9:30, newly formed Stafford Hunter’s Freedom Quartet will play original music reflecting on Juneteenth and on this moment in history. Tickets can be purchased on Dazzle’s website. 

While you’re there: Grab a drink and some grub at NATIV on Wazee St., a hotel, club and restaurant that has an all day happy hour and brunch. 

Zarah and the Chocolate Factory

This Black Pride event is an all-Black drag show hosted by Miss Zarah and starring a cast of local drag performers, with a guest appearance from Drag Race alum A’Keria Davenport. The show starts at 10 pm at Tracks.

While you’re there: Begin your night with dinner at NOLA Voodoo Tavern and Perks, a bar and restaurant serving up New Orleans-style food.  

 

SUNDAY

Gospel Drag Brunch!

This Black Pride event merges gospel, drag and brunch food at X Bar Denver. Hosted by Venus Sexton and Juiccy, the brunch will feature performances by local drag stars Krystal Towers and Felony Misdemeanor. The show starts at 12 p.m.

While you’re there: Start your morning with a cup from Coffee Etcetera near Civic Center. 

Juneteenth Pop-up Museum

The pop-up will run again, and for the last time, on Sunday. Sunday’s hours are 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Two-day Street Festival

The weekend-long Street festival wraps Sunday with events running from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Performances start at 2. Here’s Sunday’s lineup:

  • Absolute Gospel Praise Team
  • Deadly Penz
  • Conjunto Colores
  • Dj Cyn
  • Zanib
  • Chasing the Dream

 

 

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