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Good weather brings out Juneteenth crowds

It was a beautiful weekend for the Juneteenth Festival and the public responded by turning out in large numbers in Martin Luther King Park.

Visitors had plenty of opportunity to listen to music, play sports, shop, learn about the community and cool down in the arching sprinklers in the park's vast wading pool. There were opportunities for everything from books to Cajun food.

Kenneth Holley was there with books from his Zawadi book store. "This is an ideal place because not only about African American people, but because you get such a large group of people in one place at one time so we couldn't ask for a better place to set up at," he said.

Holley said anything about Muhammed Ali was selling well, as well as other biographies or historical books.

Seasons New Orleans owner Byron Parks he uses only real red beans in his Cajun recipes. "My mom lives here and my aunt lives here. And, I come up here every other month, really, every other month. I bring real red beans, red beans out of Louisiana, not the Mexican beans," Parks said. "And people want the local seafood. I bring the fresh blue crab, the fresh shrimp. They love the seafood."

Festival Board Member Solar Ingram said the event had something for just about every age. "Basketball games: boys and girls are playing in tournaments, with Girl Sports and Against All Odds are out there, playing basketball. We had the children's area, where you can sign your child in, get a wrist band for them and allow them to go and play on the bounce houses," Ingram said.

Other people had a chance to shop for African-motif clothing and listen to an array of community groups talk about what they do and available opportunities.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.