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  • Writer's pictureJAM

Weston's Third Annual Juneteenth Heritage Jubilee

The Black Ancestors Awareness Campaign of Weston, Missouri, was pleased to announce the third annual Juneteenth Heritage Jubilee on Saturday, June 17, 2023.

This event would not have happened without the tenacious attitude of a savvy Kansas City jazz musician. Over the past decade, things have changed for Angela Hagenbach. She started a vocal trio with Pamela Baskin Watson, and Nedra Goodson Dixon, the ensemble known as Book of Gaia.

The powerful trio soon several successes to celebrate. Then, their collective busy schedules put the band on hiatus.

All three women have an interest in musical theater. Nedra was in the original cast of Hair, on Broadway and Pamela has a list of successes from an active career in New York and concerts around the world. She is celebrated as a songwriter. Living for the past couple decades in her childhood home of Kansas City, Pamela has plenty of opportunities to serve as Musical Director local productions and tend to her far reaching projects. Nedra and Pamela have been collaborating on a jazz opera that continues to gather steam.

In an effort to make it through the pandemic, vocalist, Angela Hagenbach became a cultural activist. This began while she was researching a book project about her great, great, great grandmother, a property owner in Weston, Missouri in the 1830s.

Her reception was so welcoming in Weston, that she has been able to uncover significant information about the lives of the Black residents of Weston over the past 200 years.

The book, still a dream, has taken a backseat to sharing of the information with the citizens of the small NW Missouri river town, in re-enactments, talks, musical events, and 3 consecutive annual Juneteenth celebrations.

With song, poetry, storytelling, and spoken word, the 3rd Annual Juneteenth Heritage Jubilee explored Weston’s Black history deeply. In long hidden revelations, the program entertained a mesmerized mixed audience with African drumming, traditional dancing, and musical performances.

It was designed to engage your mind and taste buds with an ancestral Juneteenth beverage that has made its way from Africa. The setting, Bee Creek Shelter, added to the down-home atmosphere. The slatted wooden structure resembled a 19th century tobacco barn, or corn crib, where cash crops are stored to dry and be ready, when the river boat pulls in to take the crop to the world.

This year, The Black Ancestors Awareness Campaign of Weston, Missouri, explored two of the myriad labor industries passed down through the generations. With grace, grit, and ingenuity, these forebears’ skillsets enabled them to earn a living, live their lives, and plan for a brighter future. Then, honoring Sankofa, to retrieve value from knowledge of the past, the troop to the audience back in time to fetch the story of a Black Weston family whose free Black roots began there before 1860.

Hosted by the vivacious recording artist and activist Angela Hagenbach, the festivities were free and open to the public. The celebration, featuring prominent local artists began at 10 am on a warm Saturday and ran until high noon, when there was a free BBQ luncheon, sponsored by the Weston Rotary Club, immediately following the morning program.

Jazz concert began around 12:30pm, when Ms. Hagenbach, her family, friends, and gathering of volunteers were able to let their collective hair down and celebrate the ongoing love and togetherness radiating from the crowd that sat rapt through their 2 hour program.

The annual celebration concluded around 2pm.

Many people from across the metropolitan area volunteered. They gave their time to bring to the forefront significant moments in Black Weston history. Greg Holler parked cars at the State Park and said,

“He was honored to do his part, making sure those that needed to park close had a way to get in and be seated for the show.”

Greg made sure that the large parking lot was as orderly and straight as the intricate design of an ancient hand-made quilt.

Chef Chris Donnelly, of Feed Northland Kids, prepared and donated BBQ. The pulled pork had simmered all morning long, and the smell wafted through the shelter as the performance proceeded. Pulled Pork is a specialty of Chris’s along with his benevolent attitude about food and it’s preparation.

“We have been eliminating food insecurity in the northland since 2009,’ said Chris proudly, “by bringing the food programs in the South (Kansas City) to the hungry kids that live in the Northland.”

Many hands make the hard work lighter. This outpouring of cooperation was visible at every turn that Saturday, and with a little good fortune and a very large crew, Juneteenth in Weston will live on for generations to come.

Guest presenters included poet Phyllis Becker, actors Gena Bardwell, Brother John Anderson, Trooper (Buffalo Soldier) Lloyd Stevens, Rebecca Ehrich, pianist Roger Wilder, bassist James Ward, drummer Mike Warren, and 7th generation Black Weston descendant Tevin Johnson on saxophone.

The performance included Art In Motion, the Weston Heritage Jubilee Singers, and the Bethel AME Church Choir of Leavenworth, KS.

Overall, the 2023 Juneteenth Celebration was awesome, an excellent location, good sharing of ideas and a heaping helping on brother and sisterhood prevailed.

The 2023 Juneteenth Heritage Jubilee was made possible in part by a grant from the Missouri Arts Council, and generous support from the Dible Foundation, Weston’s Chamber of Commerce & Rotary Club, and several local businesses and individuals.

For information about furthering this joyous event please contact: Angela Hagenbach directly at 816-519-7970 or

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