Juneteenth weekend celebrations include 5K race, party by beach, and free Garth Fagan Dance event

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Ontario Beach Park, the Rochester Museum and Science Center, and Genesee Valley Park are some of the locations for the Juneteenth weekend celebrations.

The federal holiday Juneteenth marks the day that soldiers freed the last known enslaved people in the U.S. in Galveston, Texas in 1865.

This month, Rochester City Council voted to declare Juneteeth, celebrated on June 19, as an official paid holiday for city employees. Payment for the holiday will go into effect next year if it’s approved through the collective bargaining discussions with Rochester’s labor unions. In addition, the University of Rochester made Juneteenth a paid holiday for all their staff and held a celebration on Thursday.

RELATED: Rochester in Focus: Celebrating Juneteenth

Here is information about the Juneteenth celebrations around Rochester:


Strong National Museum of Play: The Museum is offering free admission. The museum is also hosting a celebration of African-American culture at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

ROC Freedom Riders bike ride: The ROC Freedom Riders are holding a 10-mile bike ride in the city to celebrate Black culture. The Bike ride starts at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, 353 Court Street, at 10 a.m. and continues until 12:30 p.m. Last year, more then 350 cyclists joined the event.

Rochester Museum and Science Center: The museum will host presentations and exhibits to honor Black history and civil rights leadership in Rochester. The celebrations run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the museum. It starts with Mercy High School’s Speranza organization singing the civil rights song “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Take It Down Planning Committee, which aims to address institutional racism in Rochester, will be one of the presenters. Museum visitors can also craft a Juneteenth button.

Slam Poetry at Highland Bowl: The nonprofit Save Rochester is holding a slam poetry event to celebrate Juneteenth, running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The third annual event features poetry performances by Rochester teens, food, games, and raffles. It’s taking place at the Highland Bowl at Highland Park.

Garth Fagan Dance free performance at MLK Park: Monroe County is sponsoring a free performance from Garth Fagan Dance, Rochester’s internationally acclaimed choreography group that created the dance for Broadway’s The Lion King. The dance performance at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, 353 Court Street, starts at 4:30 p.m.

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County Executive Adam Bello said the performance will honor the reason for the holiday. “Observing and celebrating this important day in American history honors the legacies and accomplishments of our Black community and recognizes that the fight for freedom, justice and equality for all is not yet over,” Bello said.


Community walk for unity: Two organizations are collaborating to organize a community walk for unity, wellness, and mental stability for Juneteenth. The walk, organized by You are Beautifully Made LLC. collaborating with Girltrek Roc, is from 8:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. The walk starts outside of Genesee Valley Sports Complex, 131 Elmwood Ave.

You are Beautifully Made LLC in a Rochester-based nonprofit to bridge the gap between mothers and daughters while supporting their basic needs. Girltrek Roc is a public health movement for Black women and girls.

Juneteenth Day Party by the Beach: Rochester-area creative consultant Rashad Smith is hosting a celebration on Juneteenth near Ontario Beach Park. The celebration includes an opportunity to network with Black leaders in business, law, medicine, and creative arts from Rochester. The celebration begins with a one-hour networking event at the restaurant Taste of the Bahamas at 4705 Lake Avenue, starting at 12 p.m. The celebration also features a 360 photo booth, a live DJ, food and drinks, and an award presentation.

6th Annual Juneteenth 5K Run and Jazz concert: The Spiritus Christi Church’s Anti-Racism Coalition is hosting its annual 5K run and walk to honor Juneteenth at the Riverbend Shelter at Genesee Valley Park, 1000 E River Rd. The race starts at 1 p.m. There will also be a free jazz concert from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Baden Park, 525 Upper Falls Blvd. The concert is in partnership with the Rochester International Jazz Festival.

All proceeds from the 5K will go to the Minister Franklin Florence Civil Rights Heritage Site at Baden Park, to contract renowned sculptor Vinnie Bagwell to be the lead artist for the site.


Block Party outside of City Hall: Mayor Malik Evans and the City of Rochester are hosting the first Juneteenth Block Party outside of City Hall at 30 Church Street. The block party runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature local food trucks and live music from Cinnamon Jones. The event is free.

“Even though the city remains open on June 20 this year, it is incredibly important to me that we put a special emphasis on the day. I encourage everyone to come down to City Hall on Monday to celebrate Juneteenth,” Evans said.