A full slate of events planned for Natchez’ Juneteenth celebrations

Published 5:36 am Tuesday, June 14, 2022

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NATCHEZ — Jarita Frasier-King, the orchestrator behind Natchez’ Juneteenth celebrations, calls herself a Tinkerbell chef. Soul food, her specialty, is about “taking what you have to design dishes,” Frasier King said.  

She could call herself a Tinkerbell entrepreneur, too, as she designed a complete celebration with history, culture, food, local businesses and non-profit work with a garnish of bottomless mimosas. 

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The events will kick-off at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday with a Unity Day celebration at the Natchez Bandstand on the bluff. 

A newly added event, “Barbeque, Blues and Brews,” will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday at the Natchez Heritage School of Cooking at 408 N Dr. MLK St. 

With food and beer samples, the event will “offer a local taste of Natchez in an effort to drive business,” said Frazier-King. Ticket proceeds will go toward fundraising for the Southwest Wellness Association of Mississippi. 

“There’s a need for well-trained people in the hospitality industry right now,” Frazier-King said about the non-profit. Part of the money raised will go toward training people who are re-entering the work force after being incarcerated. 

Other proceeds will go toward the wellness checks she does in the community for senior residents. During the isolation of COVID, it’s grown apparent that these checks are more widely needed, and not just by seniors, she said.

“That contact is so important for everyone,” Frazier-King said about the community outreach project. 

The events this year are also meant to be more family oriented, with more opportunities for kids to engage. From 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Alicia Faye Duncan is hosting “Connecting History through Knowledge” at the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture at 301 Main St.

Duncan wrote her book “Opal Lee: The true story of the grandmother of Juneteenth and what it means to be free” to help young students remember forgotten moments from American History. 

Frazier-King not only welcomes kids, but she hopes the event will draw people to visit the Natchez Museum of African American History who otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to its archives and displays. 

The central celebration is at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the 500 block of Commerce Street. The Soul Food Fusion community is hosting the annual White Linen dinner and at approximately 7:30 p.m. there will be a Mocko Jumbie performance. 

Originating in West Africa, the Mocko Jumbie, believed to be a guardian of the people, is a traditional stilt walker and popular character at cultural events, parades, and other festivities. N’Rhythm band will also perform. The central table seats 100 people at a time, though Frazier-King hopes for upward of 600 attendees. 

With her background in community food and partnerships with local restaurant, Frazier King plans for delicious cultural food and “a lot of fun,” she said. 

After the dinner, there will be an after party at Rolling River Reloaded and another at 10 p.m. at Locust Alley at 515 Main St. Locust Alley is hosting AfroXotica, a night dance class with NOLA choreographer Andrea Peoples. Live drummers and a DJ will accompany the class. 

Sunday morning from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the NAPAC Museum at 301 Main St. is hosting “Lazy Magnolia Brunch.” Chef Paul Alexander, a 98% blind cake artist with the National Black Chef’s Association, is hosting a live cake designing session. Chef Rita, Frazier-King’s other title, will be serving Caribbean food with bottomless mimosas. 

Tickets for all events can be found on the Visit Natchez website.