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Fayetteville’s first Juneteenth Jubilee was ‘absolutely’ successful, organizers say

Roughly 22,000 people attended 2 days of celebration, officials estimate


The inaugural Juneteenth Jubilee was a big success over the weekend for the city and its co-sponsor, the Cool Spring Downtown District, according to organizers of the celebration.

The jubilee was a first for Fayetteville tie-in to the federal holiday that commemorates the abolishment of slavery in the United States. It also was observed as a city holiday for the first time on Monday.

Bianca Shoneman, president and CEO of the Cool Spring Downtown District, called the festival “absolutely” successful. She said feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

“We had two full days (with) … three different events,” she said.

“Many of the vendors that attended the Saturday event (reported) strong sales,” Shoneman said. “(They were) pleased with management and communication from the managing partner and in general had a good experience. Enjoyed the diversity of the music. Enjoyed the day as a whole, the spirit of it overall.”

An estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people attended Saturday’s jubilee at Festival Park. The entertainment included saxophonist Reggie Codrington of Fayetteville; the musically diverse Diwali Cissokho and Kaira Ba; the funk-based Fatback Band of Fayetteville; Americana singer-songwriter Amethyst Kiah; and hip-hop artist Morray, another native son who is perhaps best known for the song Quicksand from 2020.

Magic 106.9 radio oversaw Sunday’s Praise Party in the Park, which concluded with a performance by acclaimed gospel singer and minister Donnie McClurkin.

Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin and City Councilman D.J. Haire both said they were told that a crowd of about 15,000 filled Festival Park for the Sunday proceedings.

“It was full,” Colvin said. “That’s what I was told.”

Last week, Shoneman had said she hoped Juneteenth Jubilee would draw about 10,000 people.

“I didn’t attend all of the events,” Colvin said Monday. “What I did attend, I was very impressed. It looked like people were enjoying themselves, and I think that was the intent of the council. I really went to Praise in the Park. It was very good.”

The mayor said he has no complaints.

“It really showed that the city of Fayetteville is diverse, and it also showed that entertainment is desired,” Colvin said. “I’m not aware of any major incidents down there. I think that was groundbreaking to show that we can have a lot of people in a space without any issues from different types of music.

“They had a really diverse selection of entertainment, from gospel to hip-hop to other,” he said. “And it was really enjoyed. They’re only scratching the surface. At the end of the day, it’s about bringing people downtown to spend money and have a good time.”

Like Colvin and Haire, Shoneman reported “zero” problems, including no arrests.

Haire, who attended the first day of the jubilee with his wife, said he thought the earlier part of Saturday's activities was “beautiful.”

“I think that Sunday was probably the best,” he said. “Sunday had a theme of history, so it kind of took you from one part of culture to another. For our first go-around, I think we did pretty good."

Haire said he received phone calls on Monday morning from people saying they thought the celebration was great.

“People from Moore County, just various folk from all over the city. We really enjoyed it,” said Haire. “Many people thought it was like integrating Juneteenth and Father’s Day. I think it was nice. Nothing but a plus.”

Shoneman said organizers encountered some production challenges throughout the day Saturday. Kiah, the Americana artist, appeared upset on stage as her band warmed up for its set. She was having problems with sound and her amplified acoustic guitar. At one point, she could be heard saying to someone onstage, “Let’s just get it done.”

“It was the intent of the festival to hire locally owned, Black-owned businesses across the board,” Shoneman said. “Not only on stage was it Black-led talent, but there certainly was diversity onstage. We engaged a Black-owned production business, and we were very proud of that. If there was folly, it was to support the spirit of Juneteenth.”

The local celebration was put together in a matter of months by the downtown district staff members after the City Council requested that they come up with ideas for a Juneteenth celebration.

In early March, the council approved $141,000 for the roughly $160,000 festival.

On Jan. 10, the City Council voted to make Juneteenth a city holiday.

“One of the things I’ve been working on and I’m continuing to work on are quality-of-life things,” said Colvin. “What determines to make the community fun and enjoyable is always connected to entertainment. … This weekend was successful. I think we’ll continue to do that. That’s what makes communities. I talk to a lot of people – a lot of younger people – and they say they spend time in Raleigh and other places because they have things to do. We have a beautiful city.”

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, Juneteenth, festival, downtown