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Juneteenth Foodways Festival: A celebration of culture and cuisine

The Juneteenth Foodways Festival is back for its second year at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in downtown Indianapolis. This annual event, honoring the legacy of renowned Black caterer and chef Dolly Johnson, brings together over 30 Black-owned restaurants, caterers, and vendors from Central Indiana. With its focus on celebrating Black foodways and culture, the festival offers a unique culinary experience for attendees.

Guests can expect to indulge in a wide array of delectably diverse foods that showcase the cultural heritage and contributions of Black foodways to American cuisine from 4:30 to 8 p.m. on June 16. From soul food classics to innovative vegan creations, the participating restaurants and caterers offer a tantalizing variety of menu items that will please every palate. Some notable partners include Black Leaf Vegan, Coney Lady, The Jollof Buka, Second Helpings, and many more.

In addition to the mouthwatering food, the festival offers various activities and experiences. Visitors can explore the story of Dolly Johnson through reenactments by Freetown Village and cooking demonstrations by Second Helpings, where they can learn about Johnson’s significant role as the first Black chef in the White House. First-floor tours of the Presidential Residence will be available, providing a glimpse into the history and elegance of the site. Attendees can also visit the Presidential Site’s exhibit, “No Compact of Silence: Black Civil Rights Advocates in the Harrison Era,” to deepen their understanding of Black history and civil rights.

The Juneteenth Foodways Festival is open to the public, with free general admission for all. However, for those eager to have early access to the festivities, a limited number of Early Access Passes are available for purchase, allowing entry from 3:30-4:30 p.m. before the official start time. Early access pass holders can savor the flavors and explore the offerings before the larger crowd arrives.

This year’s festival is made possible through the generosity of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation and is presented as a program at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. It serves as a platform to highlight the contributions of Black-owned businesses, foster community engagement, and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Black foodways.

If you’re looking to embark on a culinary adventure while immersing yourself in the vibrant culture of Central Indiana, the Juneteenth Foodways Festival is an event not to be missed. Come with friends, family, and fellow food enthusiasts to honor Juneteenth, support Black-owned businesses, and indulge in the diverse and delicious culinary traditions that have shaped American cuisine!