Valley Focus: Fresno Juneteenth Celebration

If you like good food, music and culture, you don't want to miss this year's Juneteenth Celebration in Fresno.

Kina McFadden and Janice Sumler joined Valley Focus host Liz Harrison in our ABC30 studios in May. They discussed what Juneteenth is all about and how you can participate.

Liz: Joining me right now is Kina McFadden, the entertainment coordinator for this year's Juneteenth celebration, and Janice Sumler -- you are the event director. For those who don't know, there is a long history behind Juneteenth.

So, why don't you tell us what it is and where did the name Juneteenth come from?

Janice: Okay, Juneteenth. We celebrate -- this is our 41st year celebrating here in Fresno, and it is a celebration of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. And the way Juneteenth came about was it did not get to Galveston, Texas, that President Lincoln had signed the proclamation until 1865 between June 13th and June 19th.

So that's where Juneteenth comes from, because of that.

Liz:I knew about the Emancipation Proclamation and the history, but now I know why it's called Juneteenth. Well, this has been a long-standing tradition in Fresno, so tell me about this year's celebration that's gonna take place.

Kina:Well, this year's celebration, we themed it as Fresno -- or Welcome to Freskanda, and it's going to be -- So, it's just all about uniting the families together and talking about our culture and we're welcoming our families to dress in dashikis and with the jewelry and just kind of --just to celebrate our culture and our heritage with head wraps and just our art, and we're gonna -- All day, it's gonna have entertainment with gospel music with jazz, with blues,with spoken word, with praise dance and African dance, drums. And also we're going to be giving some recognition to some organizations that are doing some great things in the community as a whole, and we're just gonna be talking about unity in the community, just bringing the families together and talking a lot about our culture, still telling those -- there's still some that don't even know about Juneteenth or why it started and the details of it. And we're just gonna have it full of lots of food and vendors.

Liz: Speaking of food...

Kina: Yeah, you just saw some there.

Liz: Fresh Gumbo House.

Kina: Oh, yes. There's gonna be gumbo.

Liz: So, tell me about some of the kinds of dishes that are gonna be there besides the gumbo.
Kina: Absolutely. There's going to be gumbo and barbecue, fried fish and fried chicken. I mean, even some fruit bowls and, I mean, greens and black-eyed peas and just a lot of soulful, cultural foods that will be able to just tickle your taste buds.

Liz:Are these restaurants that participate in this, or are these just residents of southwest Fresno or all over Fresno who are cooking up the food for this?

Kina: Absolutely. A mixture of both. Most of them are either pop-up restaurants or they have their own restaurants, and, yeah. And then we have some churches that will be coming out and organizations, of course. You know, the Health Department will make sure that they're ready to rock and roll.

Liz: Of course.

Kina: But, yeah, we're gonna have some definitely grade-A food prepared for you and the restaurants ready to serve, yeah.

Liz: You do a parade during Juneteenth every year, correct?

Kina: That's right.

Liz: Tell me about that. Does that kick the whole thing off?

Kina: It does. Janice, you want to tell them?

Janice: Well, the parade starts at the Food Maxx shopping center, and we start at Fresno and B Street and goes down Fresno Street to Pottle, and then we turn left to Frank H. Ball.

Liz: We're watching video of last year's parade right now.

Kina: Yeah, it was amazing.

Liz: Lots of music, lots of young people, lots of young youth groups involved in this, right?

Kina: Yes, yes. And it's growing year after year. We just canvass the neighborhoods and let them know we're doing a parade.

Everyone is welcome to celebrate with us, our freedom, and, yeah. Organizations come together. Either they dress in the same T-shirts or the same outfits, and then they have their banners or their cars, their classic cars.

And we just parade from, like --like Janice said, we parade from the Food Maxx shopping center all the way to Frank H. Ball Hark, and we just have a wonderful celebration.

Liz: That sounds fantastic. How do people get involved? How can they say, "I want to participate in this?"

Janice: Well, we have it -- we post it on Facebook, all social medias, and then e-mail, and then just by personal contact.

Liz: Perfect.

Kina: And we're meeting every Thursday at the community center -- at Maxie L. Parks Community Center every Thursday evening at 6:00 PM where we're giving information and still adding vendors, volunteers. Many hands make light work, so of course we're looking for volunteers for setup, clean up during and breakdown. And then also we're still looking for maybe some entertainers. We have some slots available, so, yeah.

Liz: Good to know. There is some free stuff there, too, so let's just go over a couple of the free things. Free hot dogs for kids.

Kina: Yes.

Liz: Free bike repair.

Janice: Yes.

Liz: That's awesome.And free admission.

Kina: It is free.

Liz: It costs you nothing to go.

Kina: Nothing, nothing.

Liz: Well, it sounds like a really fun celebration


Saturday, June 15

Parade:10am (starts at Fresno and B Streets)

Festivities: 12pm-8PM

Frank H. Ball Park

760 Mayor Avenue
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