Juneteenth event not permitted

Published 9:21 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An event planned for this weekend at Bennett’s Creek Park will not go on, because the organizer never completed a special event permit application, a city spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The application for the Juneteenth festival required, among other things, documentation of Department of Criminal Justice Services certification for security covering the event, city Chief of Staff Debbie George said. That information was never provided, she said.

George said organizer Sheri Bailey has “known for approximately a month that event is not moving forward.”

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Bailey talked with the News-Herald about the event on June 20 and gave no indication of any problems. (See previous story)

“We’ve had a miscommunication,” she said Tuesday. “It’s been extremely frustrating to deal with the bureaucracy of all this. I feel blindsided.”

Bailey said she was never told the application was incomplete and that the event would not be able to go on.

“I was under the impression we were dealing with whether or not the city was going to provide some funding,” she said.

Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in America, is celebrated in many parts of the country with festivals. The Suffolk event, planned for Saturday, was meant to include drum and dance demonstrations, a yoga workshop, vendors, community resource information and more.

Bailey said Tuesday she still hoped to hold the event and was trying to work with city officials to get last-minute approval.

“We will be out there,” she said. “There’s no way to cancel an event at this point. We’re going to be there. I think we’re going to all be fine.”

But George said the only conversation city officials had with Bailey Tuesday was to let her know “she needed to cease advertising the event.”

The website for the event, www.juneteenthva.net, still advertised the Bennett’s Creek Park location as of Tuesday evening.