Juneteenth celebrations feature cultural, economic focus | Local News

Greenville is gearing up for a big Juneteenth celebration next weekend with live music and festivities on the Town Common on Friday and events Saturday that celebrate culture and business opportunities, the city announced.

The weekend of fun begins on Friday when local jazz legend and East Carolina University School of Music professor Carroll Dashiell returns for the annual Greenville Grooves Music Festival, an annual celebration of Juneteenth and African-American Music Appreciation Month. This year’s event is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenville Town Common.

Dashiell and his fellow musicians will entertain attendees with a mix of Contemporary, Motown, and R&B classics. In addition to the musical entertainment, food trucks, adult beverages, an arts and culture market, and other entertainment will be offered.

In conjunction with the festival, the Pitt County United Way is hosting its first “United We Can” food-drive and sculpture competition featuring a couple dozen team that will build sculptures from canned and other food items.

At 3 p.m. each team will begin building its structures on an assigned, 10 by 10 area of the Town Common. Displays are to be ready for judging by 6 p.m., and awards will be presented at 8:30 p.m.

Several awards and spectators will be encouraged to vote for their favorite. The sculpture with the most votes will receive the Community Choice Award. Several other awards also will be given and proceeds and donations will go to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina.

Also during the festival, the creators of Greenville’s new African American Cultural Trail will introduce their new new app and logo and continue gathering information for the development of the trail.

The effort led by the Greenville Convention and Visitors bureau has compiled digital presentations on six stops in central and west Greenville for a smartphone app that leads users on a self-guided tour of the sites.

Two of the sites, including the Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza are located on the Town Common, and the soft launch is just the beginning, officials said, as the effort develops more stops and partnerships with restaurants, retail and lodging outlets.

The group will have a booth set up during the festival to share information about the app and trail along with the Bricks & Mortar exhibit developed by East Carolina University about the Shore Drive Community that used to occupy the space of the Town Common.

Organizers also will be meeting and talking with residents and asking them to share family stories and memories about the sites.

In The Black

The Juneteenth happenings continue on Saturday when the City’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise program hosts its inaugural “In the Black Business Pop-up Celebration” with a merchants, food trucks and live entertainment at Five Points Plaza at Fifth and Evans Street and more events in west Greenville.

“In the Black” will serve as the official launch of the Small Business Co-Op Space located at 415 Evans St. and the shared kitchen space located at the Gold Post Cafe at 803 W. Fifth St. The day will also incorporate a stop on Albemarle Avenue known as the “Block”, Greenville’s historic minority business district, to introduce the African American Cultural Trail that will launch in the fall of 2021.

“We are excited to officially open the doors to our new community assets and to celebrate Juneteenth, the national freedom day for African Americans formerly enslaved,” Greenville Financial Services Manager Denisha Harris said. “This is a prime opportunity to elevate, educate, and empower our small business community and make intentional strides towards an economic freedom that builds wealth and increases the economic impact of our community.”

In the Black Business Pop-Up Celebration Schedule of Events:

11-11:30 a.m.: A Ribbon Cutting and Open House at 415 Evans St. Take a tour of the retail space and back office opportunities. While there, take a moment to enjoy and appreciate some of the art pieces installed by the Black Creatives of Pitt County.

11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.: Business Pop-up event. MWBE will provide MWBE merchant opportunities in time for Father’s Day at Five Points Plaza, located at the corner of Evans and Fifth Streets. A variety of food trucks and entertainment, including DJ Big Six Entertainment will also be at Five Points Plaza, along with the popular cover band, The Monterio Experience, to provide urban radio hits and Motown grooves.

2:30–3:15 p.m.: Meet on the “Block” at 629 Albemarle Ave., home of the Greenville Theater Arts Center. Here, the African American Cultural Trail Committee will be providing a live presentation on the history of Albemarle Avenue and the Roxy Theater, a cultural cornerstone for the minority business district.

3:15 p.m.-5 p.m.: Wrap up the day at the Gold Post, the MWBE Program’s shared kitchen space and commissary. At the Open House, local food service talent will have the opportunity to check out the space and gauge interest in utilizing the kitchen for their commercial needs. City officials will be on site at 804 W. Fifth St. to answer any questions and provide tours.

The small business co-op space and the shared kitchen space are just two of the strategies designed to support small business as a part of the Incubate to Accelerate Initiative. In addition to physical space, the initiative offers a loan program up to $25,000 for operating and capital needs as well as free business accounting services from a local CPA.