Juneteenth Events in the Iowa City Area

June 19th is Juneteenth, known as the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Texas to deliver news that the Civil War had ended and that all slaves were free. This day came two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation — meaning freedom was delayed for many enslaved people. Juneteenth is the celebration of the day when all slaves were liberated — and several Juneteeth events are happening in the Iowa City area to celebrate.

A graphic that says Juneteenth

Iowa City has a history of celebrating this important day. For several years, the community has come together for a Juneteenth commemoration featuring live music, dancing, and more. This year, several events are occurring to mark this important holiday.

Juneteenth Events in the Iowa City Area

Juneteenth History Walk-In

When: Now – Saturday, June 19
Various Black owned, local businesses
What: Walk-in to participating Black-owned businesses and learn more about Juneteenth and Black history in Johnson County. Pick up a punch card at any of the participating businesses, have it stamped at a minimum of seven locations and be entered into a drawing to win a $100 or $50 gift card from one of the businesses.

Participating businesses:

  • Venus Beauty Supply
  • Textures Salon
  • SugaPeach
  • Keto Kitchen
  • Dunn Brothers
  • Crepes De Luxe Café
  • Christina’s Unity Beauty Supply
  • A to Z Thrift Store
  • Basic Goods
  • Tweety Juice Bar
  • Modina African Market
  • Rodney’s Jamaican Jerk
  • Island Vybz
  • First Class Boutiques

Be sure to visit some of the other locally owned Black businesses in the Iowa City area.

Juneteenth Education and Resource Fair

When: Wednesday, June 16 at 4 p.m.
Where: Online
What: This virtual fair will feature opportunities to learn more about the variety of programs and resources available in the Iowa City community. This year’s event will feature sessions about financial literacy, wealth, and the history of Juneteenth. The first 100 people to register will receive a swag bag containing items from participating vendors.

Participants are welcome to come and go throughout the virtual event.

Block Party

When: Thursday, June 17, from 5 – 8 p.m.
Chauncey Swan Park
What: Enjoy a night of family fun to mark Juneteenth! This is a downtown, community block party. The celebration will include food, music and a bounce house, along with a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. The event is free and open to the public. Please bring your own lawn chairs. An outside, free screening of Miss Juneteenth will follow the block party.

Meal Drive-Thru

When: Saturday, June 19 at 11 a.m.
Riverfront Crossings Park
What: Drive through the Riverfront Crossings parking lot and pick up a free meal from Rodney’s Jamaican Jerk & BBQ or Wich-Uh-Waffle. First come, first served — while supplies last. Juneteenth t-shirts will be given away during the event.

The Food of Juneteenth for Teens

When: Monday, June 21 at 1 p.m.
Where: Ped Mall
What: An exploration of Juneteenth through farming and food, inspired by chef Michael Twitty and the Book We Are Each Other’s Harvest. Make a fresh salad with African American greens. Register now!

For more information and additional events, visit the City of Iowa City’s Juneteenth page.

Juneteenth A Federal Holiday: Three Things to Know About It

Katie is a spouse, mother, and professional communicator. She became acquainted with Iowa City as a student at the University of Iowa, earning degrees in Journalism, Political Science, and most recently her MA in Strategic Communication. Katie and her husband met and fell in love in Iowa City, deciding to never leave. Their family can often be found eating their way through downtown, walking their dog in City Park, or cheering on their beloved Hawkeyes at live sporting events.


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