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The Rochester Juneteenth Festival Will be “Bigger and Better” This Year

Juneteenth Festival Committee members and awardees at pop-up event, Tuesday, April 18 at the UUU Art Gallery, State Street, Rochester

The Greater Rochester Martin Luther King Jr. Commission announced their plans, Tuesday, for this year’s Juneteenth festival, “celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop and a lifetime of freedom.”

The festival is scheduled for Saturday, June 17, 2023 at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at 353 Court Street in downtown Rochester from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

The celebration will kick-off with a parade at the intersection of Chestnut Street and Court Street, ending at Strong National Museum of Play.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to recognize 50 years of hip hop and a lifetime of freedom through this year’s festivities,” said Rashad Smith, Director of Marketing and Communications. “There will be an exciting DJ Battle with DJ Big Reg and DJ BacSpin from the Beat 105.5, that’s gonna be pretty lit.”

“I’m also grateful for this year’s sponsors. Molina Healthcare is a huge sponsor. And Gwen (Lee) who is leading that work has been awesome. They are showing the essence of what it means to come together to celebrate Blackness and what people in our community are doing.”

Committee members say they will be announcing a national recording artist as this year’s feature. Additionally, they have identified 19 community members that they will be honoring and giving awards to for their contributions to the community and several High School students will be awarded scholarships for college.

“Festival attendees can expect an engaging and fun, family-centered experience featuring a variety of vendors, performances by local artists, dance groups, poets and other entertainment and cultural cuisines across the unique and rich diaspora of African-Americans will be available for purchase,” noted Natalie Sheppard, Festival Coordinator.

The committee held a pop-up event Tuesday at the UUU Art Gallery on State Street. Several community members were recognized and presented with certificates at the event.

Juneteenth, now a federal holiday, commemorates the end of slavery for African Americans in the United States. The name was derived from combining "June" and "nineteenth", it is celebrated on the anniversary of the day slaves in Texas were told they were free. Originating in Galveston, Juneteenth has since been observed annually in various parts of the United States and has become a more broad celebration of African-American culture.

2023 award recipients include:

  • Chad Grimes – Black Business ROC

  • Khadija Yawn – ROC Royal

  • Ashley Cross – The Hub 585

  • Devon Reynolds – Brothers & Sisters Unisex Salon

  • Rob Campbell – 585 Viral

  • Sirena Cotton – ROC The Peace

  • Reverend Derrill Blue – Memorial AME Zion Church

  • Karen Iglesia & Gerard Iglesia – Primetime 585

  • Tysharda Thomas, Cassandra Bradley, Niner Davis, Christina White, Sylvia Ryndock (Greater Rochester Association of Realtors Black Caucus)

  • Bishop Fred Johnson Sr. – First Genesis Baptist Church

  • Dr. Reverend Dulaine Cook-Green – CONEA

  • Tyrone Reaves – Young Adult Manufacturing Training Empowerment Program (YAMPTEP)

  • Marquita Rugless – ROC Events

  • Khadijah Tillman – Sankofa Family Counseling Services

  • Luvon Sheppard – Joy Gallery

  • Minister Franklin D.R. Florence – Community Leader & Activist

Visit for details and updates


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