Allentown celebrates Juneteenth with festival at Cedar Beach Park

Written by on June 19, 2022

Allentown celebrates Juneteenth with festival at Cedar Beach Park

By Megan Frank
June 19, 2022

Allentown fashion designer Georgina Boamah, owner of GinEse Couture, was among the vendors. (Photo | Megan Frank / WLVR).

Hundreds of people came out to a festival at Cedar Beach Park in Allentown on Sunday for Juneteenth.

The federal holiday commemorates when the last slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned that they were free in 1865 — more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

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People from all different backgrounds filled the festival grounds, enjoying live music, dancing and soul food.

Easton resident Shelly Simpson says this was her first Juneteenth festival.  She shared what the holiday means to her.

“It means freedom.  It means enlightening others,” she said. “Hopefully we can all come together in peace.  It’s nice to see so many different nationalities and mixtures of people out here.”

Allentown fashion designer Georgina Boamah was one of the vendors   She owns GinEse Couture.  She says some of her African-inspired designs have a message.

“I have bright colors [and] I have some designs here that are ‘Sankofa’ – that means going back to your roots,” said Boamah. 

Allentown artist Jo Irizarry set up his easel and painted for the crowd.  One canvas featured five raised fists.

“This represents my people rising and raising their fists in power,” explained Irizarry.

Vendor Philemon Kirambi brought a mix of Afro-centric goods from his Allentown shop – The Kulca Kernel.  He says Juneteenth is a day for people of all backgrounds.

“We’re all part of a global kaleidoscope.  We do have color variations, but within the kaleidoscope you have harmony,” said Kirambi.

The festival concluded with a fireworks display.

Juneteenth has been recognized since the 1860s, but it wasn’t until last year that President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

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