Juneteenth is Coming | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Juneteenth is Coming

With a full weekend of celebration ahead for June 17 and 18 in Central Oregon, we chat with one of the organizers of the Black-led event

Juneteenth, an amalgam of "June" and "19," marks the day in 1865 when slaves in Galveston, Texas, were alerted that they'd been freed from slavery – and had actually been freed two years prior. Today, Juneteenth is a celebration day and a day of remembrance, celebrated nationwide, including in Central Oregon.

We sat down for an episode of our Bend Don't Break podcast to chat with Kenny Adams, executive director of the Black-led group, The Father's Group and one of the many organizers of this year's Juneteenth celebration in Bend, which takes place over the June 17 and 18 weekend.

click to enlarge Juneteenth is Coming
Courtesy the Fathers Group
Peformances from last year’s Juneteenth in Drake Park.

Below is an excerpt from that podcast, which is also available now at bendsource.com.

Source Weekly: Share how Juneteenth is celebrated.

Kenny Adams: So when it comes to the celebrations, there have traditionally — and to this day, traditionally at Juneteenth celebrations, there you'll find a beauty pageant, you know, for Miss Juneteenth. You will have parades that happen. Now, in this community, will we get to the point of having that? Sure, I think we need to build up the Black community a little bit more, because I think we're like .65 percent of Central Oregon, which only equates to about 1,000 people. So as we continue to grow in number — because we have a lot more people moving here to the area — I think we'll see a little bit of that.

click to enlarge Juneteenth is Coming
Kenny Adams
Kenny Adams is the executive director of The Father’s Group, which is organizing this year’s Juneteenth.

Red velvet cupcakes were usually baked for the celebrations. I believe they called it red soda, which is cherry soda. A lot of folks celebrated with barbecues, family reunions. Just general get-togethers. A lot of church services are revolved around it.

There's a lot of people — a lot of naysayers in the community that were like, well, this is just something that Joe Biden came up with. No. We've been celebrating it since 1865, and just because it became a federal holiday doesn't mean that it's suddenly credible.

SW: This is the third annual Juneteenth here in Bend, and it sounds like there's going to be a lot of stuff happening!

KA: Let me talk about two things first. The Education Plaza [to be set up in Drake Park] is named after Deshaun Adderley. For those unfamiliar, Deshaun Adderley was a student in the Bend-La Pine school system that due to racial bullying, he did take his own life. And we honored Deshaun and his memory by naming, and we've talked with his father, got the blessing for that — that is the Deshaun Adderley Educational Plaza. It's multifaceted. We have a large tent; there's going to be Black history, including some local Black history that we're doing some work with in conjunction with the High Desert Museum, the Deschutes Historical Museum and a few other partners like Vamonos Outside. And then The Father's Group is also curating a lot of things ourselves, but then also directly across from it, there's going to be a game area for kids. I personally have been working on an oversized, mancala board that will be out there for the kids to play on. But then we have a lot of educational booths and partners that are out there.

click to enlarge Juneteenth is Coming
Courtesy the Fathers Group
Juneteenth is a two-day celebration in Drake Park.

Check out the photo booth that will be out there, too, that would be a lot of fun. And then, the entertainment stage is named after Barry Washington, Junior. Everyone in this community — if you don't know about Barry Washington, Junior, you have been living under a rock. We spoke with Barry's mom and got her blessing for this as well. We have several performers that are going to be there from day to day.

We have 40-plus vendors that are going to be out there — a heavy level of, and prominent focus on Black vendors from Central Oregon. We have a bunch of food trucks that are coming. but let's talk about food for a second. Yeah, Super Dave, who is our resident chef with The Father's Group, has cooked up an amazing menu. Jamaican Jerk barbecue ribs with Jamaican beans. Also the fried plantains, but then he also has his Super Dave messy sando, I think he calls it The Big Mess — which is a piece of fried chicken with baked mac and cheese spicy, sweet pickles, barbecue sauce, coleslaw on a brioche bun.

You can go to the website, JuneteenthCentralOr.com to see pictures of that. I encourage everyone to go to the website.

—Listen to the full conversation with Kenny Adams in the podcasts section of bendsource.com.

Juneteenth 2023
Drake Park
Sat., Jun 17, 11am-7:30pm; Sun., Jun 18, 11am-5:30pm

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)
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