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Juneteenth Events You Should Not Miss

Juneteenth in DSM

Iowans are “Free to Be” in 2023!

Celebrate Iowa Juneteenth this year in Greater Des Moines (DSM) with a variety of events focused on remembering the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. The official Iowa Juneteenth celebration takes place on the third Saturday in June in our state — this year on Saturday, June 17. You can find even more information about the events happening in the region on Facebook and Instagram.

2023 Iowa Juneteenth Observance Events

  • Kick Off Event – Happening at Mainframe Studios in Downtown Des Moines (DSM), this free event will feature speakers, food and live music on Friday, June 9 from 5 – 8 p.m.
  • Gospel Celebration – Hoyt Sherman Place in Sherman Hill welcomes a guest pastor, Pastor Derail Smith, and The Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir for a celebration on Sunday, June 11. Pastor Stephen A. Carter will MC the free event beginning at 6 p.m.
  • Community Builders Appreciation Banquet – Abena Sankofa Imhotep will be the keynote speaker at this year’s banquet on Thursday, June 15 at 5 p.m. Register to attend at the Drake Olmstead Building on Drake University’s campus. See recipients awarded for contributions made in Iowa.
  • Golf Outing – Head to Blank Golf Course for check-in at 7 a.m. and a shotgun start at 8 a.m. on Friday, June 16. Raffles will take place, too, so there’s a chance to win prizes as you golf!
  • Neighbor’s Day Celebration – Visit vendors, hear speakers and see live entertainment during Neighbor’s Day in Western Gateway Park on Saturday, June 17 from Noon until 8 p.m. There will also be raffles, a children’s play area and storybook walk.
  • Drive-In Movie Night – Watch Wakanda Forever at the Valley West Mall parking lot on Monday, June 19. Don’t forget to bring blankets, pillows, popcorn and a treat for while you watch! Gates open at 6 p.m.; the movie starts at 8 p.m.
  • Culture in Color – On Friday, June 23, enjoy food from Joppa Experience and purchase tickets to Dress 2 Impress at Bella Love Venue in Clive from 6 – 10 p.m.

Other Juneteenth Events in Greater Des Moines

There are even more Juneteenth events happening at local businesses in DSM this month. Check them out below!

  • Emancipation Day: A Juneteenth Event – Living History Farms in Urbandale will hold an event exploring the Black experience in Iowa’s history on Saturday, June 10 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. This is your chance to hear about Iowa’s Black pioneers, enjoy a story time with Abena Sankofa Imhotep, watch a baseball game and more. See the Iowa Civil Rights exhibit or explore the story station.
  • Juneteenth Tea – Join Black Women 4 Healthy Living for a free annual Juneteenth Tea event at the Speed Lyceum Conference Center located in the Student Center at Grand View University Monday, June 19 from Noon to 1:30 p.m. While free, each person must register by Thursday, June 15.
  • Juneteenth Comedy Jam – Spend an evening at Teehee’s Comedy Club for a festival-like comedy show.
    • The Kickoff Show is Friday, June 16 at 7 p.m. ($15 adv./$20 at the door)
    • Ladies Night is Friday, June 16 at 9:30 p.m. ($20 adv./$25 at the door)
    • The Bias Crew Showcase is Saturday, June 17 at 7 p.m. ($15 adv./$20 at the door)
    • The Grand Finale showcase is Saturday, June 17 at 9:30 p.m. ($20 adv./$25 at the door)
  • Juneteenth Sickle Cell Blood Drive – The American Red Cross and Black Women 4 Healthy Living are encouraging donors to walk in and donate on Saturday, June 17 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Pappajohn Education Center Lobby in Downtown DSM.
  • Juneteenth at the District at Prairie Trail – Ankeny will hold a Juneteenth celebration of Black culture with food trucks, vendors, a children’s area and black and brown artists. There will also be a 360-photo booth, mini golf, mural painting and more on Saturday, June 17 from 4 – 10 p.m.
  • Juneteenth and Emancipation – The African American Museum of Iowa and Waukee Public Library will offer a presentation on the impact of slavery on the U.S. on Saturday, June 19 at 1 p.m. at the library.
  • Iowa History 101: Emancipation Celebrations: The Historical Context for Juneteenth – See a film presentation from the State Historical Society and hear from Leo Landis on the history of Juneteenth in Iowa on Tuesday, June 20 at Forest Avenue Library from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Learn more about Iowa Juneteenth at iowajuneteenth.org.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership calendar of events is a one-stop resource for activities taking place throughout the region. Find networking information for Greater Des Moines (DSM) businesses or events specific to Downtown DSM.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 23 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 400 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.