30th anniversary of Juneteenth in Ogden is something to celebrate

Photo montage: Gephardt Daily/Laura Withers; Juneteenth/Facebook

OGDEN, Utah, June 16, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — The 30th Anniversary celebration of Juneteenth in Ogden will still be going strong today at the Ogden City Amphitheater, and this free, fun, family friendly event has something for everyone.

Juneteenth, a commemoration of the end of slavery, was first held in Texas on June 19, 1865, and the celebration has taken root over the years in cities all across the U.S.

In 1989, the celebration came to Ogden, thanks to Betty Sawyer, a woman who wears many hats in her service to the community.

“When I found out about Juneteenth, I joined a committee to plan the event in Salt Lake City,” Sawyer told Gephardt Daily. “But the group that was supposed to reserve the venue forgot to do it.”

So Sawyer got on the phone and called Maurice White, the director of the Marshall White Center, to ask about using the Ogden facility. That was 30 years ago, and Juneteenth, now held in the amphitheater at 343 E. 25th St., has been an annual event in Ogden ever since.

Interesting people you can meet at Juneteenth include Robert Burch and his wife, Alice. Robert is originally from Georgia, but became a Utahn when he married Alice, who works with white parents of adopted black children.

Alice knows from her own experience that a child needs to feel comfortable bridging the cultural and racial distinctions between white and black. Or Hispanic or Asian or Native American. She credits her mother for being aware of this need and inviting people of color into her life.

You can also learn about local organizations that make a priceless contribution to the community through outreach, education, and health services.

Or maybe you’d like to spend Father’s Day just chillin’ in the shade and listening to live music while you indulge in some BBQ or grilled chicken.

Juneteenth will continue today from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will feature live entertainment, including gospel music with Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Zenobia Smith; and local legend Joe McQueen and his jazz ensemble. There also will be the Willie Moore and Billy Mason “Golden Clipper Barber Battle,” a new event to honor these iconic barbers and show off the artistic skill of some of Utah’s student and professional barbers.



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