Dru Hill

Soul and hip-hop stars Dru Hill highlight the musical performances for the Juneteenth Family Fun Day activities June 16 at Brazos Park East.

Waco’s Juneteenth Family Fun Day, already one of the state’s larger Juneteenth celebrations, expands into an Extravaganza this year, with three days of activities and performances by the platinum-selling ’90s soul and hip-hop group Dru Hill and gospel singer Myron Butler.

This year’s Juneteenth Weekend Family Extravaganza, held June 15-17, will feature a new scholarship pageant with $5,000 in scholarship prizes and a Father’s Day Gospel Blowout to flank the seventh annual Family Fun Day at Brazos Park East.

“It’s bigger than anything we’ve ever done,” said organizer and Empowerment Driven By Knowledge Coalition founder and CEO Sophia Strother.

Juneteenth celebrates the day that Texas slaves first heard of their emancipation after the Civil War, June 19, 1865, and has become a day to recognize and enjoy African-American culture and history.

Attendance at past Juneteenth Family Fun Days has ranged from 4,000 to 6,000 people, making it larger than those in Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth, Strother said. “I’m so proud that Waco has the largest Juneteenth celebration in 150 miles,” she said.

A $10,000 Creative Waco grant and increased community interest will help turn a day into a three-day extravaganza. McLennan County high school juniors and seniors will compete in the June 15 Mr. and Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant, one that provides winners with etiquette lessons, financial literacy instruction and a career fair. Phi Beta Sigma members raised $5,000 for scholarships.

The Family Fun Day, held June 16 at Brazos Park East, will feature performances by Bigg Robb and Lil’ Ronnie, capped by ‘90s soul and hip-hop stars Dru Hill, known for such hits as “In My Bed” and “Never Make A Promise.” The Fun Day also will have a Kids Zone of children’s activities, a community

health fair and a Black Bold Exhibition mounted by the Central Texas Artists Collective.

Rounding off the Extravaganza is a June 17 Father’s Day Gospel Blowout featuring Grammy Award-winning Dallas gospel singer Myron Butler. Butler presently serves as music minister at Bishop T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House Church in Dallas.

Past Family Fun Days have had gospel music, but organizers thought moving it to June 17, Father’s Day, would offer a chance to honor African-American men and their contributions as fathers and mentors, Strother said.

Waco Juneteenth celebrations also will include a traditional parade organized by the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce. That parade, not a part of the Weekend Family Extravaganza, will take place along Elm Avenue from 9 to 11:30 a.m. June 16.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor