Juneteenth celebration in Stevens Point continues to grow

The event has doubled in size since last year
Published: Jun. 18, 2022 at 10:50 PM CDT
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW)- After a successful pilot run in 2021, Stevens Point brought back a fast-growing celebration. The city held a Juneteenth celebration for the second straight year Saturday, this time at Pfiffner Park.

The idea for a Juneteenth event came about last year.

“Somebody posted in ‘Stevens Point: Happening Now’ and asked if there was interest in it and she kind of came to CREATE for support,” said Dana Sonnenberg, Project Activator at CREATE Portage County. “We pulled together and made it happen.”

The event was a great success, with a substantial turnout.

“There was a better turnout than expected last year which was super cool,” said Kiba Freeman, owner of Kiba Freeman Art and has been about both events. “The committee decided to do a bigger space for it this time around so people could come, spread out, do more activities, have a few more performances, that kind of stuff.”

The goal of last year’s event was to educate more on what Juneteenth is. Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 that a Union Army Major went to Galveston, Texas to tell enslaved African-Americans that they were free. This year was more of a day-long celebration.

“You know we celebrate the Fourth of July every year and this is a black Fourth of July,” said Sonnenberg. “This year we decided to just kind of have a day to highlight the black culture and the black community that exists here and really just have some fun together.”

Many people, of all backgrounds, came out to enjoy the festivities, and perhaps, learn something new.

“These events help us understand those who are different than us and what’s important to them and their heritage and their culture,” said Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza. “This yeat it’s already doubled in size and we’re just getting started.”

With anticipation around the event, the celebration was moved to Pfiffner Park this year, giving more people the chance to come out over the course of an entire day.

“The strong suit here is that people are coming out,” said Wiza. “They want to learn. They want to understand. They want to be better people and it shows.”

“I feel like it’s easier to learn about it once you get to know the people involved with it,” said Freeman. “That’s kind of what this event is about, coming out, meeting with people, mingling with people, over food, with music, dancing, having fun.”

There are already plans to establish the Saturday before Juneteenth as the official day of the Stevens Point Juneteenth celebration moving forward. Having such a strong community backing is something really rewarding for those who helped put it together.

”To see them here and enjoying things and really standing up for the inclusivity that does exist and the welcome that does exist in this community is always heart-warming,” said Sonnenberg.

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