Juneteenth: Let the Good Times Roll Festival celebrates Black culture

A community organization founded by one of the oldest Black fraternities, Rho Omega and Friends is behind Louisiana’s largest and longest running Juneteenth festival that also serves as a fundraiser to help send local youth to college.

Live music is performed non-stop on stages at the festival.

Rho Omega and Friends will present the 36th annual Let the Good Times Roll Festival honoring the culture, music, art, fashion and unity of the African American community June 16-18 at Festival Plaza in Shreveport, Louisiana. The festival is organized around the federal holiday Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans after the Civil War.

Over the years, the three-day event has become known for attracting some of the country’s and region’s top names in soul, gospel, hip-pop and R&B to entertain more than 20,000 festival goers Juneteenth weekend. This year’s festival will feature guest music artists such as soul-blues singer Willie Clayton and hip-hop artists the Ying Yang Twins.

“We’re excited to bring this event once again to the community to celebrate Black culture and support the organization’s mission to provide guidance and education to young males,” said Vencil Holmes, festival chairman and Rho Omega and Friends member.

A “party with a purpose”

Established as the community outreach arm of the fraternity Omega Psi Phi, Rho Omega and Friends provides scholarships and mentorship to young boys to “change the negative narrative of Black males and encourage them to become positive role models in urban communities.”

A health fair, including youth hair cuts, has been part of the festival.

“Once these gentlemen graduate, they are highly likely to join forces to help the next generation from the positive impact this organization provided to their upbringing,” Holmes said.

The Let the Good Times Roll Festival is one of many “party with a purpose” social events and fundraisers held by Rho Omega and Friends throughout the year to benefit high school students in Shreveport. Proceeds from the festival and other events are used to fund summits, college prep opportunities, and the organization’s male mentoring programs that have a proven track record of turning over 70 percent of the young males who participate into college students.

Since its founding, Rho Omega and Friends has sent more than 100 high school students to college through scholarships and provided mentorship to more than 300 boys ages of 10-17. The organization also provides guidance and education tools to help teenage boys navigate life, Holmes said.

A vendor sells merchandise at a past festival.

“Rho Omega and Friends is proud to be the only nonprofit organization of this magnitude that has a major festival attached to their program where we provide entertainment to support our cause, community-focused activities, and guidance to at-risk youth in the Louisiana market,” he said.

Finding ways to expand the festival through bigger sponsor partnerships will be important to ensuring Rho Omega and Friends can continue to provide scholarships to help young boys advance in their higher education, Holmes said.

“We’re taking steps toward reaching this goal by bringing in new concepts and gaining support from Shreveport’s mayor and county commissioner to unite for a bigger cause and to foster a better city for the next generation,” he said.

About Let the Good Times Roll Festival

Get festival and ticket information by visiting https://www.rhoomega.com/festival/.

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Photos are courtesy of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau.