INDIANAPOLIS — The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is looking for Black-owned food vendors for their new Juneteenth Foodways Festival they plan to start this summer. 

The holiday recognizes the day that slaves in the south found out they were free. 

A representative from his organization says President Harrison has a connection with the history of Black entrepreneurship 

“Just knowing what Juneteenth was and how it started in the late 1800s and Harrison was the President in 1888 and was a strong advocate for Black civil rights,” said Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site Special Events & Marketing Manager Whitney Ball. 

“We are trying to keep that momentum going as it becomes more widely known, it’s exciting to educate people that come to the event.” 

He also hired one of the first Black White House chefs, Dolly Johnson. 

“It’s learning from Dolly Johnson who was President Harrison’s White House Chef. We just thought that this was the perfect year with our newly renovated lawn to have it there and to celebrate Black-owned businesses.” 

This will be the first year the presidential site is hosting an event like this, and they are trying to get the word out to have more chefs apply. 

The pop-up Black Lemon Indy has already gotten on board to be the first food partner for the event. 

It’s an opportunity that Creative Director for Black Lemon Indy Jeffery Burgin says was important to take part in. 

“Now that we are in a place where we can celebrate Black chefs, I feel like it’s important to look on this holiday, the historical significance that it’s had,” said Burgin. 

“We need to put all of our energy in it to make it as big of a celebration as it can be.” 

Each business, whether it be a restaurant, a pop-up or a caterer will get a $300 stipend for taking part in the festival as well as all the proceeds from their sales. 

Any place that can feature or recreate a menu item from White House Chef Dolly Johnson will get an additional $200 stipend if it’s approved and shared with the site in advance. 

“I feel it was important as we are celebrating Black chefs and cooks now. It’s important to look back at the history of all the people that came before us to get to this moment today,” said Burgin. 

The festival will be Friday, June 17th at the site on Delaware Street. 

They are asking for businesses to apply to be partners by March 31st. 

The event will also have an exhibit open with dramatic readings from Freetown Village and there will be tours of the first floor of the museum.