Memphis Juneteenth Festival at Health Sciences Park: Federal holiday


At 10 a.m., when the earliest Juneteenth festival goers were getting ready for a short walk and run, Vincent Jamerson was readying his charcoal smoker. One of the first vendors to see near the corner of Union Avenue and S. Dunlap Street, Jamerson, 58, has made a no-frills ritual of grilling, a past time begun when he was young and starting fires for his mom’s smoker in North Memphis. 

Under the company name “Lick the Bone,” Jamerson lives in Cordova and can usually be found selling “whatever people like” — ribs, chicken, shoulder, smoked sausages — along Germantown Parkway and will be at the Southern Heritage Classic in September. 

Vincent Jamerson smokes meat during the Juneteenth celebration at Health Sciences Park, Saturday, June 19, 2021, in Memphis, TN.

As the smell of barbecue wafted from Jamerson’s set-up, so did tunes of his favorite musicians, among them Sam Cooke and Bobby “Blue” Bland. It was Jamerson’s first time grilling at a Juneteenth festival, as it was the first time for Memphis’ Juneteenth festival to take place in the Health Sciences Park. The Juneteenth Urban Music Festival has historically been held at Robert R. Church Park downtown, and at Douglass Park before that.

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