After two fun, exciting and successful Annual Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch events, there was no way that organizer Tara Wilhelmi was going to cancel this year’s event because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s 3rd Annual Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch will be headquartered at Goodman Community Center but the brunch program will be hosted virtually and streamed on Sunday, June 21.
A virtual event wasn’t even on Wilhelmi’s radar when she started to plan the event back in January before COVID-19 hit.
“We didn’t want to cancel the event. We were like ‘let’s be optimistic.’ I sent a message out to the team imagining what this would look like if it was virtual. I think it’s going to turn out great. I’m excited,” Wilhelmi tells Madison365.
The theme for the 3rd Annual Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch will be “Uplifting Black Men and Fathers.”
“Because its Fathers Day, we’ll be focused on Black males in the community and I’ve been thrilled to sit back and watch how they are really bonding together and getting things going,” Wilhelmi says. “And that led us to a purpose.
“The past couple of years that I’ve been talking to you about this event we’ve been talking about purpose,” she adds. “I knew this could be a good fundraiser and we’ve firmly settled on the creation of and the supporting throughout the year of a Black Men’s Support Group & Emergency Assistance Fund.”
The Juneteenth Brunch will raise money for that fund and will kick that initiative off. Comedian Antoine McNeail will host the event and Martinez White will be the keynote speaker. Breyon Oneofmani Sommerville, Fawn Celley, and Riana Abanukam have been working with Wilhelmi to organize the event.
“Prenicia Clifton, who has been working hard on the Kujichagalia Juneteenth Celebration, has been helping us out, too,” Wilhelmi says. “We are basically going to have a Zoom webinar link and we’re going to integrate some pre-recorded material and some live stuff. Very few of us will be at a room at Goodman Center and we will be live shooting with a stage in the background.
“The keynote will happen there, some of the emceeing will happen there. Some of the performance pieces will be pre-recorded and integrated in,” she adds.
And the most important question, for many, is what about the food?
“The food will be prepared, ordered and curb-side picked up before the event starts,” Wilhelmi says. “People will file through in their cars through the Goodman roundabout. Think small-scale Thanksgiving baskets.”
Pre-ordered meals will be available for curbside pick up between 10:30 – 11:30 am at Goodman Community Center, 49 Waubesa St. on Madison’s east side.
“We have a new caterer this year and the name of her business is Palate Pleasures. The name of our chef is Patience Clark and she’s really awesome,” Wilhelmi says. “She will be providing brunch mainstays – eggs scramble, herb-roasted potatoes, chicken ‘n’ waffles. She’ll have three types of gourmet waffles.”
Those three gourmet flavor choices for your waffles, by the way, are red velvet, cinnamon roll, and plain. Clark will also be serving up baked mac ‘n’ cheese, collard greens, cornbread and fresh fruits. Dessert will be caramel and chocolate cake made by Sweets by Sweet.
“We added a little BBQ because we know it’s going to be Father’s Day,” Wilhelmi adds. “We’re also working with Kipp [from Kipp’s Kitchen.] We’ll be having some rib tips by him.”
The event will have its own fashion show and awards show like it has done the first two years. COVID-19 precautions will be taken to ensure a safe and healthy Juneteenth celebration and awards presentation.
“We’re adding an innovator award — so it will be legacy, youth, and innovator awards. We have many community nominations that came in and we looked through them this past weekend,” Wilhelmi says. “We’ll invite those folks to come to Goodman and pick up their awards because we can have up to 10 people in a room potentially at one time and still be within the COVID pre-cautions.
“It will be fun. It’s a great community event. We are really looking forward to it,” she adds. “We are looking forward to the virtual aspect of it. It will be a new experience for everybody.”