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Juneteenth Foodways Festival honors Black historical figure in Indianapolis



Indianapolis, Indiana – Every year in Indianapolis, the Juneteenth Foodways Festival celebrates a woman who made history at the White House.

The festival’s organizers claim that it will be a night full of friendship, food, and fun. On Friday, 2,000 people gathered to celebrate at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

“We’re celebrating black entrepreneurs, restaurants, caterers, and retail partners, throughout Indianapolis,” said Shanét Wallace, the site’s special events coordinator.

According to Wallace, the festival pays tribute to Dolly Johnson, the first Black cook to work at the White House when President Benjamin Harrison hired her.

Numerous food vendors during the festival reproduced some of Johnson’s well-known dishes to recognize her accomplishments.

“Today I made Dolly Johnson Tutti Fruity Cake,” said Taria Slack, owner of Black Leaf Vegan Café.

Slack, who has been in business for three years, said that she feels heartened by the way the neighborhood has banded together.

“Dolly Johnson inspired me to pursue my business,” Slack said. “To bring my southern roots to food and make it vegan too.”

The inventiveness doesn’t end there. Owner of 18th Street Distillery Drew Fox claimed to have modified a few of Dolly Johnson’s signature drinks.

“We didn’t want to stick to the traditional recipe,” Fox said. “So, we did a non-alcoholic hibiscus simple syrup. While also adding a high-end tonic it’s refreshing, and topped it off with mint.”

The main goal of the event, according to the organizers, is to support small Black-owned businesses. The event is currently in its second year.

Even though Juneteenth doesn’t actually occur until Monday, there are a number of celebrations this weekend.



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