Annual Sun Prairie Juneteenth Celebration, now in its 4th year, continues to grow


    The 2022 Sun Prairie Juneteenth Celebration, an event hosted by Sun Prairie Community Schools, the City of Sun Prairie, the African American Parent Network of Sun Prairie and Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County, will offer two days of family-friendly events and programs to celebrate Juneteenth.

    “This is the fourth year that Sun Prairie has had a Juneteenth Celebration and we are excited that it’s going to be two days. The first day is mainly going to be set at the Sun Prairie Library and there will be almost an entire day worth of activities that they’re going to do,” Teran Peterson, a member of the Sun Prairie Juneteenth planning committee, tells Madison365. “They’re going to have an author come in and speak and the entire children’s section of the library will have all of their Black celebration books highlighted. The Dream Bus will be out there and the Boys and Girls Club will have a reading area.”

    The first day of the Sun Prairie Juneteenth Celebration will take place Friday, June 17, 1:30-3 p.m. at Sun Prairie Public Library.


    On Saturday, June 18, 2-5:30 p.m., there will be performances, family activities, athletic competitions and a resource fair at Carriage Hills Estate Park, 540 North Musket Ridge in Sun Prairie.

    “On Saturday, we will have DJ Martinez White out there entertaining the crowd,” Peterson says. “We’re having the South Shore Drill Team come up from the Chicago area to perform. There will be all types of resource tables and resource partners like The Sunshine Place, the Neighborhood Navigators, the African American Parent Network, and the Boys and Girls Club. They’re planning on having face painting and a basketball tournament. There will be so much going on all afternoon long.”

    Peterson says that there will be free food – hamburgers and hot dogs – for the first 400 people to come to Sun Prairie Juneteenth on Saturday that will be cooked by the Sun Prairie Police Department.

    “Every year Sun Prairie Juneteenth seems to get just a little bit bigger and bigger,” she says. “So last year, it was like eight community schools that led it. The year before that it was the African American Parent Network and another group and so like this year, bringing in Boys and Girls Club and some others, it’s continually gotten bigger and bigger. We are super excited.”

    Former Sun Prairie School Board Member Marilyn Ruffin reads Juneteenth stories to children at a previous Sun Prairie Juneteenth Celebration.

    Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, a day when African-American slaves in Texas were told by Union forces that they were free. They were the final group of slaves to realize their freedom. Deep in the Confederacy, they were unaware of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation almost two years earlier. A celebration of the day has been held annually in Texas ever since, which eventually spread to other states.

    “I think I prefer Juneteenth over the Fourth of July. Yeah, there’s fireworks and whatnot that the city does [on the fourth] but I would love for Juneteenth to be as big as the fourth,” Peterson says. “Historically, Juneteenth is about when the last slaves found out about the Emancipation Proclamation, but in reality what it means today is that it’s an opportunity for Black people to come together and find joy and celebrate. How often do we have things that are for Black people and rooted in joy and rooted in celebration? So being part of a team that lifts that – in a community like Sun Prairie where the Black community is a minority – is great.  I wish we could find more joy and celebration in everyday things.”

    The 2022 Sun Prairie Juneteenth Celebration will have family activities, food, performances, music, prize give-a-ways, and much more.

    “We are encouraging the whole community to come celebrate with us. Come see excellence. Come see joy. Come on out and dance,” Peterson says. “The drill team will be phenomenal. We’re so excited. And [DJ] Martinez [White] always puts out a good show so there’s no chance of disappointment there.”