How to celebrate Juneteenth in the Des Moines area?

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration to commemorate June 19, 1865, and the abolition of slavery in the United States, according to Iowa Juneteenth.

Iowa’s Juneteenth celebration was founded by Gary Lawson more than 30 years ago, in 1990. Black equality and freedom have been celebrated in Iowa since 1856, according to the Iowa Historical Society Iowa State.

Here’s how you can celebrate Juneteenth in the Des Moines area this year:

Emancipation Day and historic baseball

Join Living History Farms celebrating Juneteenth with a sweet potato pie party, live entertainment, a historic baseball game and much more. An entrance fee is required, but all presentations and activities are included.

  • When: Saturday June 8, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

  • Or: 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale

  • Price: $19 for ages 13-64, $13 for ages 2-12, seniors, military and AAA are $18

Week-long commemoration of June 19

The African American Museum of Iowa is hosting a weeklong Juneteenth celebration that will include seminars, a festival, extended gallery hours and more. Events will take place both online and in person, and a full itinerary can be viewed at

  • When: Thursday June 13 – Wednesday June 19

  • Or: 55 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids

  • Price: Free

Juneteenth Celebration Hike

Black Iowa Outdoors is hosting a hike June 17 at Copper Creek Lake Park in Pleasant Hill. Everyone is welcome and asked to wear red, black, green or yellow. There will also be a presentation from physical therapist Dr. Patrick Ford of Rock Valley Physical Therapy.

  • When: Saturday June 15, 10:30 a.m. – noon

  • Or: 4390 East University Avenue, Pleasant Hill

  • Price: Free

Iowa Juneteenth Observance Neighbors Day Celebration

The theme for Iowa Juneteenth this year is to focus on the three Rs: remembering our history, releasing the past and reshaping our future, according to the Iowa Juneteenth website. At the Neighbors Day celebration at Western Gateway Park, everyone is welcome and asked to bring lawn chairs and blankets as there will be plenty of live music to listen to.

  • When: Saturday June 15, noon – 7 p.m.

  • Or: 1205 Locust Street, Des Moines

  • Price: Free

Ames Seventeenth Anniversary Celebration

Celebrate Juneteenth in Ames with live entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts, games and much more. Stick around for the free movie night at Ames City Auditorium at 7 p.m.

  • When: Saturday June 15, 12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

  • Or: Ames Bandshell Park, 125 E. Fifth Street, Ames

  • Price: Free

Celebrating Ottumwa’s Seventeenth Birthday

The Ottumwa Seventeenth Birthday Celebration Committee is organizing its annual ceremony, with the theme “Unity in the community”. There will be entertainment, music, camaraderie, cultural celebrations and much more.

  • When: Wednesday, June 19, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

  • Or: Railroad Park, Central Addition, corner of US Highway 63 and US Highway 34, Ottumwa

  • Price: Free

Celebrating the seventeenth anniversary with the DSM BLM collective

Join the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement in Des Moines for its fifth annual Juneteenth celebration. There will be free food, games, music and more.

  • When:

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