As the community celebrated Kenosha’s Juneteenth festival on Saturday (June 17) to recognize the impact of many local residents, it was perhaps the younger generation and future leaders that garnered most of the attention.
The annual event, held across from the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha at 1345 52nd St., culminated with a grand entrance from Miss Kenosha Willow Newell, the crowning of Mister and Miss Teen Juneteenth and a youth dance-off for the ages.
Newell was escorted into the festival’s stage arena on horseback, addressed the crowd and announced Kenosha’s Ariana Ervin and Keyon Hill-McAbee as the 2023 Miss and Mister Teen Juneteenth.
That’s when the party really got started.
Competing for cash prizes and bragging rights, about two dozen youngsters took the stage and put on a no-holds barred hip-hop clinic. Kenosha’s Stasia Ferraro and Layali Morris battled it out on center stage for an unforgettable, award-winning performance.
Ervin was one of four entrants in the 2023 Miss and Mister Teen Juneteenth competition. The candidates took part in a panel interview on Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha.
Hill-McAbee, 17, said he was surprised and honored to be chosen as Mister Teen Juneteenth. The 2023 Indian Trail High School and Academy graduate plans to continue his education locally at Gateway Technical College.
“(Juneteenth) is all about love, glory and happiness,” Hill-McAbee said.
The competition was organized by Kenosha’s Marguerite Phillips, owner of Marguerite’s Boutique.
“They all did a fantastic job,” Phillips said. “I’m really proud of them. The main thing was for them to know about Juneteenth, the meaning of it, where they’re from and where they’re going.”
Newell, Kenosha’s first Black Miss Kenosha, is off to Oshkosh this week to participate in the Miss Wisconsin Competition.
“I was able to help judge the interviews (for Miss and Mister Teen Juneteenth),” Newell said. “There’s so much excellence here.”