Skip to Main Content

2024 Downtown Akron Juneteenth Celebration Welcomes Modest Crowd & Plenty of Food to Cascade Plaza


Category: Downtown Akron Blog

The 2024 Downtown Akron Juneteenth Celebration weekend went ahead as scheduled on June 21 and June 22, despite the cancellation of events on city property the weekend prior. The turnout was modest—perhaps 400 people over the course of both days, not including the crowd that sat on the lawn at the Lock 3 Back Yard to groove to a performance by the acclaimed Dirty Dozen Brass Band after the Saturday celebration. Nevertheless, it was a relaxed, joyful weekend, which we hope to build upon next year.

Photo: Ramahn Wilder

On Friday, June 21, from 6 to 8 pm, we welcomed about 70 people to the Knight Stage for an evening of mixing and mingling. The intimate gathering featured a variety of mouthwatering small-plate offerings, like mac ‘n’ cheese bites and mini soul rolls from the Plannerz Place Eatery, poundcake and iced tea from the Tea Lady, sliders and fries from Perfect Pour, and seafood dip and wangs—not wings—from Putty’s Sports Lounge. People freely took second and third servings from the buffet piled high with food, and by the end, most people had filled to-go containers with leftovers.

People ate and mingled while enjoying the musical stylings of JT’s Spark Trio, a collaborative jazz project by local artists Justin Tibbs, SmokeFace, and Holbrook Riles III. When JT’s Spark Trio wasn’t playing, DJ Vinnie G spun tunes that people happily line danced to, and Ebony Hill of Hilltastic Coaching and Consulting shared important facts about the history of Juneteenth. In the Knight Stage’s upstairs lounge space, local artists Chris Harvey, Da’Shika Street, Makaylah Clark, and Keytsa Bishop agreed to display some of their work for eventgoers to view.

Photo: Ramahn Wilder

The Saturday celebration on June 22, which ran from 3 to 7 pm on Cascade Plaza, was hot—as in, it happened during the hottest part of the afternoon on the hottest day of Northeast Ohio’s late-spring, early-summer heat wave, when the high temperature soared to 93 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity made it feel even hotter. Thankfully, the breeze on the Plaza was strong and beachy, and a cooling tent and free water station provided a little extra respite.

Local artist Floco Torres emceed the event, and DJ 8-Bit kept the music flowing all day. From 4:30 to 5:30, JustUs Line Dance Crew taught a line dancing class. Local vendors and community organizations providing resources sat under tents around the plaza, and volunteer organizers roamed the space, asking people to register to vote.

Photo: Ramahn Wilder

Incredible food abounded, like pulled pork, po’boys, fried fish sandwiches, coney dogs, Cajun gumbo, heaping burgers, mac ‘n’ cheese, candied yams, collard greens, shaved ice, sherbet shakes, and so much more. In fact, If there’s one thing to say that summarizes the 2024 Downtown Akron Juneteenth Celebration weekend, it’s this: There was so. much. food.

We are grateful to everyone who joined us in honoring Juneteenth downtown this year, and especially to the planning committee, staff, vendors, artists, volunteers, and community organizations that helped make this year’s celebrations welcoming, thoughtful, and joyful.

The 2024 Downtown Akron Juneteenth Celebration was presented by DAP in partnership with the City of Akron, Lock 3, and Akron Civic Theatre, with additional support from Knight Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, Akron Community Foundation, Akron Civic Commons, GAR Foundation, Great Streets Akron, State and Federal Communications, Inc., Heera Indian Cuisine, and through the time and efforts of the Downtown Akron Juneteenth Planning Committee.