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Juneteenth organizers looking for creative ways to celebrate the postponed festival this year

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Posted at 4:49 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 16:49:47-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Juneteenth has taken place for the past 44 years in Western New York, and if the festival organizers have their say, the 45th consecutive celebration will still take place this year — just not on its intended date.

This statement was posted to the Juneteenth of Buffalo festival page earlier today:

ATTENTION! ATTENTION! After considering the effects Covid-19 is having on our nation, and specifically, on our community, in order to support the health and safety of our festival’s participants and attendees, the Juneteenth Festival of Buffalo’s Board of Directors has decided to postpone the 2020 festival to a later date, TO BE DETERMINED AND ANNOUNCED. Currently registered vendors, food service providers, and parade participants, please be patient as we continue to plan for, hopefully, a weekend later in Summer 2020.
Just like almost every difficult decision being made, in this season, this is indeed unprecedented, as the Festival has been a staple of Buffalo’s Black community for 44 consecutive years, occurring on the first
“-teens” weekend of June.
Other events that are affected by our decision include Sankofa Days, the Maafa, and Git on Da Bus; all of which will also be postponed until a later date.
Although we have no idea what our tomorrow holds, we will continue to operate with the belief that there will be ‘tomorrow’ and continue to plan for the 45th consecutive festival to be the best ever. Please, if you pray, pray for us all, and stay healthy, safe, and through it all, show love.
Thank you, Community, for your continued support. Peace and Love!

The Executive Vice President of Juneteenth Festival Jomo Akono spoke with 7 Eyewitness News and said organizers are now trying to get creative with plans for this year.
“How do we bring maybe not the people to the festival, but the festival to the people.”
He said the committee looked at several factors when deciding to cancel, including the vendor’s need to travel, access to funds due to the economic impact COVID-19 is having on small businesses, and the number of people that typically gather for the festival.

Buffalo’s Juneteenth Festival is considered the third largest celebration of Juneteenth in the country. It’s an American holiday that celebrates the abolition of slavery on June 19, 1865. In Buffalo, the festival promotes cultural tourism, cultural education, and helps to promote business and development across the region.

“We’re not saying it’s not going to happen,” said Akono. “We are reorganizing (to figure out) ‘how do we still deliver festival programming even if we have to have limited amounts of people?’,” he said. “We are getting creative.”

Organizers are hoping to reorganize the festival at a date in late summer.