The sound of live music and the smells of food trucks filled the gusty air at Craig Ranch Regional Park on Monday evening, as crowds gathered for live performances and other vendors at the Juneteenth Freedom Festival in North Las Vegas.
Local nonprofit organization F.A.I.T.H. Wellness Services Inc. organized and ran the free event in collaboration with the KCEP Power 88.1 radio station.
Event co-founder Brenda Chaney said that she and her daughter, fellow co-founder Iesha Chaney, first conceived the idea to hold an event on Juneteenth two years ago, but they reached out to Craig Knight, manager of KCEP 88.1, about six months ago to start planning.
“We feel blessed to be able to present this to our community,” Brenda Chaney said.
“What emancipation means is that it was just the beginning, and we have a long way to go. But we’re invested in this effort so we’re gonna keep moving,” Brenda Chaney said.
The festival was held despite a wind advisory early Monday morning from the National Weather Service, but the gusts at the festival were smaller than expected. Knight said the winds helped keep the temperature cool for the hundreds of attendees.
Knight and both Chaneys were very happy with how many people came out to the celebration.
“This is an unbelievable turnout,” Knight said. “This is the first one, we’ll be doing it every year on Juneteenth, no matter what.”
The festival included live performances from African singers and drummers, praise dancers and Maxine Jones, a founding member of the En Vogue music group.
“It’s for a fantastic cause, it’s for a momentous occasion, time for celebration, and I’m so glad to be here. I’m glad I got invited by Craig and F.A.I.T.H. Behavioral Services,” Jones said.
What made the festival important for attendees, performers and organizers alike was that it was held on and celebrated during the Juneteenth holiday.
It was a sentiment echoed by Melvin Bates Boone, who also attended other Juneteenth events over the weekend. He said the holiday is significant, and its recognition from the government gives him hope for the future.
“I hope that one day we don’t have any issues between colors,” Boone said. “It’s a big deal, hopefully in the future they’ll recognize more things like Juneteenth.”
The city of Henderson also held a Juneteenth event on Monday as part of the city’s three-day celebration of the holiday.
Henderson hosted live music, poetry and an art exhibit to finish the weekend’s festival. Henderson’s festivities for Juneteenth began on June 5, when a blue and red Juneteenth flag was raised to commemorate the holiday.
Knight emphasized that the holiday is meant to unite people across cultures.
“It’s for everybody, all cultures, because Black history is American history,” Knight said.