SLC Juneteenth serves food, crafts and good vibes in the Windy City

Black-owned businesses display their wares.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Penny Rodriguez and London Larkin perform in the fountain at The Gateway during the Juneteenth Celebration on Monday June 19, 2023.

Blustery conditions that swept over Salt Lake City Monday were not severe enough to derail celebrations at the annual Juneteenth Celebration and Black-Owned Business Expo.

The wind may have kicked up dust and swayed trees, but by midday they weren’t a problem for the few hundred visitors who roamed The Gateway, listening to music and browsing about 20 vendor tents.

Khadija Wade, owner of Safari Beauty Supply at 465 E. 3300 South in South Salt Lake, said this year was her third time attending the Juneteenth festival.

“It brings the entire black community together so we can have fun,” she said, “while showing our business to show that we’re in Utah at the same time.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Alex Boyé sings at the Gateway Juneteenth Celebration on Monday, June 19, 2023.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Texas more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and informed the remaining enslaved African Americans that the Civil War was over and they were free.

The day became a federal holiday in 2021 and a national holiday last year.

At The Gateway festival, children played in bouncy castles, visitors queued at a food truck for Senegalese dishes, and music blared from the speakers while performer Alex Boye sang and danced with the crowd.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Alex Boyé sings at the Gateway Juneteenth Celebration on Monday, June 19, 2023.

Beneath pop-up tents, vendors sold shirts, flavored butter, handmade baskets and small crafts while chatting to passers-by.

Adolphus Nickleberry, a resident of The Gateway, said he always makes it a point to watch the Juneteenth celebration, listen to the music and meet new businesses.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Lavarro Greer discusses the best flavored butters from heaven at The Gateway during the Juneteenth celebration on Monday, June 19, 2023.

“It’s great,” he said. “This is how black businesses in Utah can come out better.”

On Monday afternoon, Salt Lake City officials commemorated the holiday by raising the June 19 flag at City Hall.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mayor Erin Mendenhall hugs Audre McDonald at the Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony at City Hall on Monday, June 19, 2023.

Justin Scaccy

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