Juneteenth Freedom Festival
The third annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival has activities scheduled June 10-19 including a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, fashion show and a market. From 2-7 p.m. Saturday, June 17, in Kollen Park there will be more than 60 booths showcasing goods from black-owned businesses and arts and crafts hobbyists as well as food trucks, inflatable games for kids and a live performance by Christian hip-hop artist Steven Malcolm.
The festivities conclude Monday, June 19, which is the 158th anniversary of when news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally spread to the enslaved people of Texas. Holland Community Theatre will stage a play about “The First Juneteenth” and Holland Museum will host a history talk by Tracee Bruce, author of “Systems that Shape(d) Black America.”
“Just like with Tulip Time and some of the other festivals, the Juneteenth Freedom Festival gives a sense of identity back to the community which we are all a part of,” said Lauren Beck, director of operations at I Am Academy, a nonprofit mentoring program that helps organize the festival.
“It’s continuing to celebrate our history together, to understand, connect and grow together.”
See the full Juneteenth Freedom Festival schedule here.
Holland Waterfront Celtic Festival
The Ottawa County Fairgrounds will be full of fiddles, kilts and beer tents June 23-24 for the second annual Holland Waterfront Celtic Festival, sponsored by Guinness. Festivities include a Friday night ceili, or dance party, for ages 21 and up, and then family-friendly activities from morning ‘til night on Saturday.
No fewer than 10 bands will be on stage during the weekend playing everything from bagpipes and Irish folk songs to Celtic rock. There also will be performances by a handful of Scottish and Irish dance schools, a kilted magician and Liam the Extra Large Leprechaun.
In addition to live entertainment, festivalgoers can get genealogy help from Scottish clans, shop for Celtic goods and, of course, enjoy food and drink. There will be a Keltic Kids play area and a sanctioned competition of Highland Games such as the caber toss, hammer throw, stone put and more.
“We have a lot of Hollanders and Hispanics who are volunteering and loving it just as much as I love going to Tulip Time and Cinco de Mayo,” said Craig Rich, festival co-director with Peter Grimm. “Holland is famous for celebrating who and what we are. You don’t have to be Dutch to celebrate Tulip Time and you don’t have to be Irish or Scottish to have fun at the Celtic Fest.”
Holland PRIDE Festival
The same weekend as the Celtic Festival is the Holland PRIDE Festival. PRIDE celebrations have taken place in the Holland area for the past two decades, but often behind closed doors with small crowds. The annual gatherings evolved into an outdoor festival and have grown exponentially over the past several years.
This year’s celebration is the Holland area’s 20th PRIDE event.
“We’ve seen a lot of positive growth in the right direction,” said Kate Leighton-Colburn, executive director of Out on the Lakeshore. “As acceptance nationwide starts to shift, folks are coming out more readily and they’re less closeted and quiet about their sexual identities. They want to celebrate who they are and be an integral part of the community.”
Holland PRIDE Festival activities include a Pride Launch party on Friday, June 23, for ages 18 and up, with a drag queen hosting a night of music and burlesque performers at Park Theatre. Then from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 24, in Centennial Park there will be a family-friendly celebration with inflatable games, face painting, music, food trucks and a fair with resource booths and vendors. The festival wraps up Saturday night with a Drag Show for ages 18 and up at Virtue Cider in Fennville.
The summer event schedule in the Holland area also includes the Better Cities Film Festival (May 21), the “Remember When” Vintage Car Show & Cruise (June 2), the Fourth of July celebration with fireworks (July 4), the Latin Americans United for Progress, or LAUP, Fiesta (July 15), Garden Walk 2023 (July 15), the Ottawa County Fair (July 24-29), Art in the Park (Aug. 5), Downtown Holland Sidewalk Sales (Aug. 11-12) and much more.
There are so many great chances this summer to experience the Holland area when there’s a big public party taking place, from the Memorial Day Parade that kicks off the season to a Labor Day Truck Parade that marks the symbolic start of fall and lots of other fun in between.
Which events will you schedule your 2023 visit around?