New vegan festival and Juneteenth Shop Black Festival will hit Fourth Bluff, June 19 and 20

Two fun festivals with free admission are planned for June 19 and 20 in downtown Memphis.

Prolific local event planner Cynthia Daniels is presenting this first-of-its-kind weekend for Mid-Southerners who want to support local Black-owned businesses, chow down on some delicious vegan food, or both. 

The Juneteenth Shop Black Festival will be Saturday, June 19, from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. The Memphis Vegan Festival will be Sunday, June 20, from 12:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. 

Both will be held at Fourth Bluff Park at 22 North Front Street between Court and Jefferson avenues.

“When a lot of the mandates were lifted and we could do outdoor events again, I really just got inspired,” Daniels said. “I'm going to have the park for a full weekend. What can I create that's needed, that's different, and that could be fun?”

Cynthia Daniels & Co. Events coordinates events throughout the year, including the annual Memphis Black Restaurant Week, Soulful Food Truck Festival, and the Black Bridal Expo.

Related: "Cynthia Daniels: Five easy ways to support Black-owned businesses"

Both events will be rain or shine, so bring your umbrellas if skies look gray. Social distancing will be in effect for all areas of the park and attendees are encouraged to wear masks. 

Advance registration is appreciated, but the events are both free to attend. Daniels said that’s something the community needs right now.

“I just felt like coming out of this past year, we have all had financial hardships,” she said. “I wanted to create a space where families could come and not need to think about having to pay to get in.”

Shop Black Festival
Juneteenth is celebrated every year on June 19. Also known as Emancipation Day, the holiday commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers traveled to Texas with the news that the Civil War was finally over and enslaved people were free. It was the last confederate state to officially receive the Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect two and half years earlier in January of 1863. 

Daniels said her Shop Black Festival will pay homage to the past with an eye on the future.

“I don't want it to just be every year we focus on the history of it,” she said. “What I'm trying to do is change the narrative by saying, ‘On Juneteenth, let's make sure we patronize locally-owned Black businesses. We can make this a day to celebrate.’”

Shoppers will find plenty for sale from about 50 vendors, like candles, apparel, art, and accessories. Food vendors will be on site and performing artists including Devin Crutcher, Keia Johnson, and Courtney Little will provide live entertainment.

Cynthia Daniels & Co. has hosted Shop Black events before, like a virtual Black Business Friday event in November 2020, but this is their first in-person festival.

Memphis Vegan Festival
When Daniels was organizing the March 2021 Memphis Black Restaurant Week, she was surprised by the number of people who asked her about vegan and vegetarian options at participating restaurants. Inspired by the growing interest in plant-based eating, she began planning a vegan food festival.

Daniels said she believes people are trying to be more health-conscious in 2021.

“This is the perfect time for people to discover new chefs, new restaurants that have new vegan options,” she said. “This is an introduction to vegan food for people interested in trying a plant-based diet.”

This event will feature 20 food vendors, as well as 25 other vendors offering apparel, beauty products, and lifestyle services like yoga and fitness training. Most participating businesses are from the Mid-South but some will travel from as far as New Orleans, Atlanta, and Brooklyn. 

Shunta Mosby and Jerome Chism will be on hand to provide live music.
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Read more articles by Sarah Rushakoff.

Sarah Rushakoff was raised in Memphis and is a graduate of White Station High School and the University of Memphis. She is a longtime member of Our Own Voice Theatre Troupe and works professionally as a graphic designer, writer, and photographer.