Juneteenth celebrations skyrocket in Iowa

Where to celebrate Juneteenth in Iowa: Several communities across the state will hold Juneteenth celebrations for the first time.

It's almost Juneteenth. Here is a list of some of the many Juneteenth events in Iowa. Want to add an event to this list? Email dana@blackiowanews.com. (This list has been updated 6/10/22.)

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A young girl dances during an annual celebration of Juneteenth in Evanston, Illinois, the United States, on June 19, 2021. U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the nation. Celebrated on June 19, the holiday marks the day in 1865 when Union Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 in Galveston, Texas, emancipating the remaining enslaved people in the state. For enslaved Americans in Texas, freedom came two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. (Photo by Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty Images)

A growing number of Iowa communities, organizations and neighborhoods will hold Juneteenth celebrations this year.

Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865, when the last enslaved Blacks in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom — two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. Blacks began celebrating their freedom in 1866, with cookouts, prayer services and other community events. Now, Juneteenth is celebrated worldwide and is the nation's longest running annual celebration of Black culture.

Despite recent mainstream awareness and efforts by retailers to profit from the holiday, some Black communities in Iowa and across the country have long celebrated Juneteenth and had pushed for a national holiday. President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 17, 2021, finally making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

According to the Iowa Juneteenth Observance founded in 1990 in Des Moines by Gary Lawson, Juneteenth gained official state recognition on April 11, 2002.

Several Iowa communities will host their first Juneteenth celebrations this year. Like in West Des Moines.

“We can't just sit quietly as if this isn’t a day of significance,” said Audrey Kennis, chair of West Des Moines’ Juneteenth planning team, during a recent Iowa Democratic Black Caucus meeting. “This is a significant date, not just for the Black community, but our entire country. This is something we should all be celebrating.”

Ankeny will host its second event this year.

“Juneteenth is a day that we celebrate not just the end of slavery in the U.S. but also honor our ancestors, celebrate our families, honor the contributions of Black people and showcase the strength and diversity of our stories, experiences and lives as residents of Ankeny, of this state and as Americans,” said Ankeny Community Network event organizer Deshara Bohanna.

Juneteenth Celebrations in Iowa

Here are some of the events taking place. (In alphabetical order)



Family activities, line dance party, movie and more sponsored by the Ames Branch of the NAACP.

Time: 3 p.m.-10 p.m.

Date: Saturday, June 18

Place: Bandshell Park, 6th & Duff, Ames.

Ames Branch of the NAACP
Jun 03, 2022 ·

Mark your calendar for this wonderful day of food, fun, and activities for the entire family. This is a great opportunity for everyone to come out and let's show our support for the Ames community!!!!


Ankeny Community Network’s second annual Juneteenth Festival

Time: 3 p.m.-10 p.m.

Date: Saturday, June 18

Place: The District at Prairie Trial, 1500 S.W. Main St., Ankeny

The family-friendly event by the Ankeny Community Network is focused on highlighting the beauty and power of Black culture in Ankeny, central Iowa and around the world. The event features food, live music and performances by the Isiserettes Drill and Drum Corps., Capital City Steppers and more. Bring lawn chairs and blankets.

“There will be something for everyone,” said Bohanna. “And a great opportunity to get to know your neighbors and maybe learn something you didn’t know about your own community.”

Black Iowa News
Jun 06, 2022 ·

#Juneteenth #iowa

Cedar Rapids

2022 Juneteenth Community Concert

The Cedar Rapids Opera celebrates its 2nd annual free Juneteenth Concert.

Time: 2 p.m.

Date: Sunday, June 19

Place: NewBo City Market, 1100 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids.

Cedar Rapids Opera
Jun 06, 2022 ·

The African American Museum of Iowa


Time: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Date: Saturday, June 18

Place: Newbo City Market, 1100 3rd St. SE. Cedar Rapids.

View a list of events.

African American Museum of Iowa
Jun 08, 2022 ·

On Saturday, June 18 the AAMI will welcome Tevin Jones back for our #Juneteenth Celebration. Tevin is an R&B singer, who has original music and also does covers. He recently performed alongside multi-platinum singer Jacquees in Des Moines, headlined several of his own events, and won an Iowa wide R&B contest.

Cedar Valley

Month of Black celebratory events


Quad City Juneteenth Festival

The Friends of MLK will host an event with food and retail vendors, history and information booths, fun-filled games and entertainment for the whole family.

Time: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Date: Saturday, June 18

Place: TMBC at the Lincoln Center, 318 E. 7th St. Davenport.

Friends of MLK
Jun 01, 2022 ·

It's June! Juneteenth is quickly approaching. See you there! #JuneteenthInTheQC #OurFreedom

Des Moines

Inaugural Pride & Soul, a Community Roller Skating Event

The event is designed to celebrate the intersections of Pride and Juneteenth.

“This will be a space for healing and celebration for what has been a turbulent year for both communities. A part of Black culture and the fight for our rights is rooted in community spaces like roller skating,” said Jo Allen, movement building director, at the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The event is also looking for LGBTQIA+ and Black artists, businesses, and food trucks to sell their goods. Contact Allen at joa@icadv.org for more information.

Time: 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Date: Saturday, June 18

Place: Lauridsen Amphitheater, Water Works Park, Des Moines

Flier by Jamie Malone. Courtesy of Iowa Coalition for Domestic Violence.

Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Jun 03, 2022 ·

Calling all LGBTQIA+ and/or Black Artists and Vendors – we have spots open to highlight your talents at our Pride & Soul event, on Saturday, June 18, at the Lauridsen Ampithreater in @[2110331925844859:274:Water Works Park]. Volunteer opportunities are also available to support the event!

Contact Jo at joa@icadv.org to learn more and reserve a spot today!

#pride #pridemonth #juneteeth #juneteenth2022 #pridemonth2022 #community #lgbtqia #blackownedbusiness #foodtruck #vendors #artists #localartists #lgbtquownedbusiness #desmoines #catchdesmoines #catchdsm

Iowa Juneteenth Observance

Dwana Bradley, general chairperson of the Iowa Juneteenth Observance, said during a recent Iowa Democratic Black Caucus meeting, during the coronavirus pandemic, the Juneteenth Observance had shifted to virtual programs. But, this year, events will be held in person.

“I was very passionate about making sure that just because the world shut down, that we did not shut down because I feel like our voices always get shut down,” she said, during the meeting.

This year’s events include the first annual golf outing, she said, in addition to:

  • Neighbor's Day
  • Gospel Celebration
  • Community Builders Banquet
  • Essay Contest

Dates: June and July

View a list of Iowa Juneteenth Observance events.

Dwana Bradley
Jun 05, 2022 ·

Juneteenth Black Art Exhibit by Urban City Magazine

Time: 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

Date: Friday, June 17

Place: Mainframe Studios, 900 Keo Way, Des Moines

Urban City Magazine
May 18, 2022 ·

See @UrbanCityMag's post on Facebook.

Fifth annual Juneteenth Comedy Jam

The 5th Annual Juneteenth Comedy Jam is a locally produced standup comedy showcase featuring African American comedians from Des Moines and the Midwest.

Time: 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Date: Friday, June 17

Place: Teehee’s Comedy Club, 1433 Walnut St., Des Moines.

Cost: Tickets $15 and up.


12th annual Juneteenth Celebration

The event features music, food, a talent show and children's activities.

Time: Noon-3 p.m.

Date: Saturday, June 18

Place: Comiskey Park, 24th & Jackson Street.

Fort Dodge

Art, games, entertainment and more.

Time: 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

Date: Saturday, June 11

Place: MLK Recreation Center, 712 3rd St. NW, Fort Dodge.

Stacey Silliman-Jones
May 17, 2022 ·

Inviting EVERYONE to come out and enjoy our Celebration of Freedom. Any questions, please call the MLK Recreation Center at 515-955-2969.


Juneteenth & Emancipation

Time: 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

Date: June 14

Place: Hiawatha Public Library, 150 W. Wilman St. Hiawatha.

Iowa City

Several events, including discussions, screenings, a fashion show, blood drive and neighborhood events. See the Iowa City Juneteenth schedule and Johnson County Juneteenth Commemoration.

The City of Iowa City Government
Jun 07, 2022 ·

The @@[482900375120:274:African American Museum of Iowa] and our Equity & Human Rights Office are hosting a free virtual presentation on the impact of Juneteenth and Emancipation on US history. The presentation starts at noon Wed., June 15, 2022. Register at Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/314qANs


Second annual Juneteenth Celebration

Event features food, vendors, hair braiding, face painting, music, dance, art, history and more.

Time: 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m.

Date: June 17

Place: Central Park, 106 N. Court St. Ottumwa.

Mason City

Third annual Juneteenth Cookout and Celebration

Mason City Voices for Inclusion will host food, music, games and more.

Time: 2 p.m.-7 p.m.

Date: Sunday, June 19

Place: East Park, Mason City.

Mason City Voices for Inclusion
May 28, 2022 ·


Living History Farms
Jun 08, 2022 ·

The Langston Hughes Players and the Corinthian Baptist Church Praise Team will perform this Saturday at Emancipation Day: A #Juneteenth Event. Find a full schedule for the day: http://ow.ly/BT7q50Jkchh

Emancipation Day: A Juneteenth Event

Presentations, discussions and more.

Time: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Date: Saturday, June 11

Place: Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale.

Cost: Ticket prices here.


Emancipation & Juneteenth with Jenny Barnett

Jenny Barnett, a museum educator at the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids will present the background and history of Juneteenth, along with three traveling exhibits on display.

Time: 3 p.m.

Date: June 15

Place: Washington Public Library, 115 W. Washington St. Washington.

Washington For Justice
Jun 03, 2022 ·


Twenty-seventh annual Juneteenth Celebration

The event, sponsored by the NAACP of Black Hawk County, includes a fashion show, music, games, food and more.

Date: June 17-June 19

View the list of events.

Juneteenth – "Black Liberation Space" Film Screening featuring Andre Wright

Moderated question and answer session, hosted by the 415 Walnut Collective.

Time: 7 p.m.-9 p.m.

Date: Friday, June 24

Place: Waterloo Convention Center, 200 W. 4th St. Waterloo.

Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa
Jun 09, 2022 ·

@[103864318735432:274:415 Walnut Collective] invites local youth, families, and community leaders to a free public film screening and Q&A with filmmaker and fashion designer activist Andre Wright, a Waterloo native and owner of Wright House of Fashion. A Juneteenth celebration of black media, film, and artistic expression, Andre Wright will debut his award winning short-film “Black Liberation Space” on Friday, June 24, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Waterloo Convention Center (200 W. 4th Street). Immediately following the film premiere, the 415 Walnut Collective will moderate a public discussion with filmmaker Andre Wright and attendees.

West Des Moines

Juneteenth Jubilee

Juneteenth is hopefully “a moment for us to reflect and really review and really start thinking about what substantive actions steps can we be taking to try to really create a more perfect union that we've always talked about,” said Kennis, who is West Des Moines' diversity, equity and inclusion director.

The event features food, musical acts, vendors but also a meaningful discussion and reflection on what the holiday means, Kennis said.

A panel discussion about the “State of Black Affairs – 157 Years Later” will be held at 5:45 p.m.

Time: 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

Date: Saturday, June 11

Place: Jamie Hurd Amphitheater by the City Hall Pond, 4100 Mills Civic Parkway. West Des Moines.

Al Womble
Jun 08, 2022 ·

xBk Juneteenth Celebration

Booths featuring Black art, media and culture. Event features community wall painting, Jazz, soul, gospel, Hip-Hop, comedy, a panel discussion and dance party.

Time: Doors open at Noon, show at 1 p.m. to close.

Date: Saturday, June 18

Place: Drake Neighborhood, 1159 24th St, Des Moines.

xBk Live
Jun 08, 2022 ·

Saturday, June 18th, is the xBk Juneteenth Celebration! Head over for a full day of community events, comedy, music, and to experience the Juneteenth: The Movement 2022 Broadcast Premiere. Admission is free!

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