The Longmont community came together on Saturday at Roosevelt Park, 700 Longs Peak Ave., to celebrate hard-fought freedom for all at the city’s third annual free Juneteenth festival which included Christie Michele, a Grammy Award-winning R&B singer, a drumline performance, food and games.

“We are becoming more of a diverse county,” said event coordinator and Longmont City Council member Shiquita Yarbrough. “Making sure that we have more cultural events in our city and in our county is very important to me.”

Observed every June 19 as a federal holiday, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Galveston, Texas, was the final city to receive word that slavery had been outlawed when Union troops arrived on June 19, 1865.

Juneteenth organizer Shiquita Yarbrough also is a Longmont City Council member. The celebration on Saturday featured music, food and games in Roosevelt Park. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Juneteenth organizer Shiquita Yarbrough also is a Longmont City Council member. The celebration on Saturday featured music, food and games in Roosevelt Park. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Yarbrough said the Longmont Juneteenth event typically brings between 300 and 500 people to Roosevelt Park. Celebrating the holiday with a public festival, she said, honors the resilience of the Black community.

“Although we may say we’re free, there are some hurdles that we still have to jump over,” Yarbrough said. “But when you bring community together … you just know you’re doing it together with people, side-by-side.”

The Longmont Combined Schools Drumline brought energy to the afternoon with an upbeat percussion performance.

Several guest speakers talked about the importance of Juneteenth, and how community members can make Boulder County feel like a welcoming place for everyone.

Keen Bahr, of Silver Creek High School, was part of the Longmont Combined Schools Drumline performance at the annual Juneteenth celebration Saturday in Roosevelt Park, 700 Longs Peak Ave. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Keen Bahr, of Silver Creek High School, was part of the Longmont Combined Schools Drumline performance at the annual Juneteenth celebration Saturday in Roosevelt Park, 700 Longs Peak Ave. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

“Juneteenth is a special celebration for African Americans and for people who love freedom,” said Kadidia Thiero, program lead at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.  “We all love freedom.”

Dixie Casford, co-executive director of Mental Health Partners, discussed some of the barriers that Black individuals face to accessing mental health care.

“Make asking for help a strength, and not a weakness, in all of our cultures and communities,” Casford told guests. “Continue finding opportunities, like this one today, to find meaningful connections with others. It can only help all of us.”

Jude Landsman, vice president of NAACP Boulder County, said the nonprofit groreceived a few new memberships on Saturday by having a booth at the event.

“We’re happy to be part of it,” Landsman said. “I’m excited that people are coming. It’s just good to be together.”

Yarbrough said the budget for Juneteenth this year was around $35,000. The funding comes from the Longmont Community Foundation’s Juneteenth fund, which includes up to $10,000 from the Longmont City Council’s contingency fund.