Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the U.S. It honors our ancestors in Galveston, Texas who found out two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, that they were free. Denver’s diverse communities came out in droves to celebrate our unity and our culture. It was a beautiful time to support our artisans, musicians, grill masters, and beekeepers. This year we honored our history while keeping an eye on our future and the work ahead, while recognizing the role our youth will play in changing the narrative. The feel had a mix of Afro-soul and Afropunk with gorgeous afros, natural curls, and multi-hued locs that represented a new empowered generation shining with freedom and expression.
The spirit of the summer family reunion filled Five Points. There were hugs and smiles as friends called out to those they haven’t seen since last summer. The children danced in beautiful African dresses, the colorful and vibrant sign that they are reconnecting with culture and learning art forms from their elders. Here are just a few of the talented artists and vendors at this year’s Juneteenth celebration.
Food always takes center stage at Juneteenth and we enjoyed the grill master at Charlie’s Smoked Meats, with hot links and shrimp skewers, he did not disappoint. We also tried Konjo Catering Food Truck selling Ethiopian cuisine. We ordered the spicy beef tips and vegetarian split peas with injera, which was delicious and it was hard to share the last few bites!
The beautiful collection of honey jars looked like a treasure in this stall. The children were amazed by the array of flavored sticks of honey in flavors like watermelon, cherry, and wild berry and at .75 cents a stick it was hard to argue. While they found fistfuls of honey sticks I examine the large jars of locally harvested honey and a wide array of soaps and other products to be found. Jatabees is a wonderful source for your family’s honey and a great way to teach children about the importance of bees.
Latasha Bell is the queen of beautiful handmade soaps. Her products are fragrant to the last lather and are so gentle you’ll soon become a loyal fan of these gorgeous bars that remind you of candy shop but sweeter. I started buying her products at Juneteenth roughly five years ago and have ordered baskets as gifts and even had specially made soaps for my 10-year old’s spa party. My personal favorite is her Orange Blossom and Ylang Ylang.
It’s summer in Denver and when I noticed this lovely shop owner didn’t have a drop of sweat on her glowing skin I had to find out her secrets! She offered a wide array of products from hair oil to a natural “Lady Powder” perfect for managing hot summer days. But she also offers an amazing secret weapon in skin care, when she opened her “Black Don’t Crack Face and Body Scrub” I was a little skeptical of the moist black charcoal powder inside. But with a minty chocolate fragrance and fascinating texture I thought I would give it a try. Lawd. It’s a miracle worker! A little bit goes a long way and it produces a gentle scrub that melts into a beautiful moisturizing oil on the skin. Love. Love. Love this.