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Organizers have high hopes for grassroots Juneteenth Freedom Fest in future

Second year of event held at Martin Luther King Jr. Dreamland Park
Posted at 7:43 AM, Jun 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-19 07:48:56-04

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Sunday is Juneteenth, a federal holiday to commemorate the day the Black community was freed from slavery.

People in Fort Pierce held their own celebrations Saturday as the second annual Juneteenth Freedom Fest took place at the Martin Luther King Jr. Dreamland Park.

The event was organized by a group of seven working-class citizens who said they wanted to do something impactful for the community.

"Juneteenth is a celebration of Black culture, Black music, food, everything," said Baren Williams, who attended the event with her daughter.

Williams said it's a way to celebrate their freedoms and remember their roots.

"Never forget where you come from, but always remember where you're going at in life," said Williams.

The theme of the event is "Breaking the Chains" as organizers said there are still many prejudices in modern-day America.

Visitor takes video of performer at 2022 Juneteenth Freedom Fest in Fort Pierce
An attendee at Juneteenth Freedom Fest uses her phone to record a performer singing at Martin Luther King Jr. Dreamland Park in Fort Pierce.

"Community is about unity and we cannot be unified if we don't pull every segment of our community together," said Shinequa Pierce, a committee chair for Juneteenth Freedom Fest.

Performers, along with local-owned businesses, set up tents at the event, which was entirely funded by those in the community.

"It was completely community driven and all funds that were raised were poured right back into the community, and we're looking forward to, after this day, we're going to start to even do bigger and greater things with this event," said Pierce.

Organizers said they've nearly doubled in both visitors and guests since last year's event and hopes the city and county will join in future Juneteenth events.

"We're willing to sit to the table to discuss to see how we can collaborate, but we gotta keep in mind that, when you're talking about collaboration, also you have to be on the same with being receptive to two different entities sitting at the table for one great cause," said Pierce.

Organizers hope the Juneteenth event becomes a legacy for the Fort Pierce community, as they're looking to expand past state lines.

The event kicked off at 1 p.m. and was set to go until 6 p.m., but it had to shut down about 30 minutes early as strong wind and rain rolled in.