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Juneteenth Arkansas preparing for 2nd annual festival

Juneteenth Arkansas held their inaugural festival last year as it officially became a federal holiday. Now, they're hoping to go bigger and better this year.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Last year, Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday that's celebrated by all.

As a result, it was also the first year that Juneteenth Arkansas held their festival event at Interstate Park. Now for their second year, founder Ebony Kimbrough said organizers are aiming to make it bigger and better.

She said that this event came about through a series of conversations among members of the community.

"It kind of makes me a little teary-eyed because it really was just a conversation that started on Facebook like, 'Hey guys what are we going to do for Juneteenth' and this was last year," said Kimbrough.

She said last year they had 5,000 people in attendance. This year, they're expecting double.

Another difference this year? They'll be giving out scholarships to local students.

As for the specifics of the event, it's set to take place on Saturday, June 18 with a parade from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., which will start on 12th Street and Broadway before traveling to Interstate Park where the festival will begin.

Kimbrough said the event will feature activities such as horse back riding, amusement rides, rock climbing, and face painting. They said there will also be a number of Black vendors who'll be selling products and services for those in attendance. 

Having those business owners and food vendors was key for Kimbrough in making sure that money flows throughout the African American community as a result of the event.  

Although the holiday has become a federal one, she wants to make it a point to keep it cultural. 

"The event is for everybody. Juneteenth is inclusive, but the Black dollar circulates in the Black community for 6 hours," said Kimbrough.

She also spoke on the notion that African American's don't spend within their own community.

The statistics have been argued for decades, but the wealth gap in the Black community is still apparent according to Kimbrough, who studies finance.

"We are trying to close that wealth gap. It clicked in my head that we as an African American community, we need to make sure that we are creating revenue and that we're shopping with one another," said Kimbrough.

The holiday received its name by combining June and 19-- the day and month that signified freedom. The day is also referred to as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day,” or “Emancipation Day.”

As for the Juneteenth Arkansas Festival, those who are interested can go to 3900 S. Arch Street in Little Rock on June 18 to take part in the festivities.

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