It was at last year’s virtual 3rd annual Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch where the organizers pivoted to making the annual event a fundraiser to create an emergency fund for Black males. With the event being held every year around Father’s Day, it just felt right.
“The first year for the Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch, it was about diversity in Juneteenth events. The next year was about perfecting the event – let’s really have a brunch. Year three, we had to pivot because of COVID and what came out of that experience was a real purpose – we started looking at what we could really impact,” organizer Tara Wilhelmi tells Madison365. “Organically, our planning team was 90 percent Black males and that’s when we really made the correlation to Father’s Day which is always right around Juneteenth.
“Next year, for our 5th annual celebration, Juneteenth will be on Father’s Day. So that is really exciting,” she adds.
EOTO Culturally Rooted will present the 4th Annual Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch “Empower, Uplift, and Celebrate our Black Men, Boys & Fathers” on Sunday, June 20, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Goodman Community Center.
“We will be indoors in the [Goodman] Brassworks area. We are still being conscious of COVID and not quite ready to bring folks together into a large space for a meal yet,” Wilhelmi says.
This year’s Juneteenth Brunch meal will be prepared by Artemis Provisions & Catering featuring locally sourced meat & produce from farming communities throughout Wisconsin. People will pre-order pre-packaged meals so families can get affordable family meals to go, but there will be a little bit of seating for people who want to eat there.
“He will offer an option of barbecue chicken or jerk chicken with some great sides – amazing baked mac and cheese, smoked greens with turkey, buttermilk waffles and more,” Wilhelmi says. “Dessert will be caramel or chocolate cake from Sweets by Sweet.”
“Folks will come through in their chosen time slots and pick up food to go and as they come through the space they will walk through the vendors that will be at the event,” Wilhelmi says. “We will use the projectors to share some content we’ve created around celebrating Black fathers, the meaning of Juneteenth and some programming stuff from Goodman Community Center.”
Wilhelmi, who was an employee of Goodman Community Center four years ago when she first started the Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch, met with new Goodman Community Center CEO and Executive Director Letesha Nelson to talk about hosting the annual event and soon was excited to see how excited Nelson was about the event.
“We met and talked about what previously had happened at Goodman with the Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch and right away she was excited about it — coming from Milwaukee where she misses real Juneteenth celebrations and opportunities for the community,” Wilhelmi remembers. “She was thinking about how not only Goodman could continue to be a sponsor but how we can move forward in partnership in producing the event. So that was fantastic.”
This year’s Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch is shifting from its usual brunch program to a special Juneteenth UJAMAA Market that will highlight local Black micro and small businesses. Wilhelmi supports vendors of the UJAMAA Business Network that grew organically out of the vendors who have been working and doing things at the Badger Rock Community Markets for the past six seasons.
“Those are primarily micro-businesses. They are primarily Black female-led. Most of our demographics are single moms who are doing this job and creating this business as this next level in addition to their full-time job and everything else,” she says. “Through the support of the UJAMAA Business Network, I’m pretty intimate with what folks can afford and what’s realistic in vending and pop-up situations and we love the summer season and we are super thrilled that things are opening back up.”
Wilhelmi says that she found events often wanted to charge $75-100 for small vendors to show up. For struggling entrepreneurs and start-ups that was tough.
“The reality for the person I just described is that $75-100 to show up at a 2-3 hour event where people are probably not coming to shop … the sales are not really high. So what we did was create a space for our businesses to be featured for free,” Wilhelmi says. “They are doing us a service by being in the space. So we will be using the Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch as a chance to highlight Black-owned businesses and community organizations.”
Funds raised at the 4th Annual Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch will go towards the Black Male Emergency Resource Fund, a supportive community and emergency assistance fund for Black men and fathers. Wilhelmi says that there are so many resources in Madison for moms; not much for dads.
“We don’t have a place for a single Black man to go for that support outside of his natural circle. So, if it’s not his friends, mother, brother … there is not an organization that upfront says that we support Black males. We saw that this was a need,” she says.
Juneteenth is a very special day for Wilhelmi and it’s an event that she looks forward to every year.
“Two things really come together for me at Juneteenth: Acknowledging how we are liberated and what does that really mean? What do we need to move into a space of Black liberation … taking that moment to celebrate together and then say, ‘This is what it is going to take to move us forward. These are the opportunities to be in community with each other.’
“This will be a fun event with great food and supporting Black businesses and Black men,” she adds. “All great reasons to come.”
The 4th Annual Juneteenth Soul Food Brunch will be held Sunday, June 20, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Goodman Community Center. Wilhelmi says that they still have room for a few vendors and organizations to host an information table as well as needing a few more volunteers. If you would like information about being a vendor at the event, click here. You can sign up to volunteer by clicking here.