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Ogden’s Barber and Braid Battle

Anna Kuglar
A barber pole attached to the outside of Moore’s Barbershop.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. Though the day was established as a national holiday only three years ago by President Joe Biden, Black communities in Utah have been celebrating the holiday for over 35 years as it symbolizes the power of liberty and resilience.

“Freedom is Never Granted, It Is Won” is the theme for the 35th Annual Juneteenth Freedom and Heritage Festival organized at the Ogden Amphitheater from June 14-16.

Among the many versatile events including live entertainment and other educational opportunities is the unique “Barber and Braid Battle,” which highlights local talent and cultural pride like no other during this fun-filled weekend. This year’s Barber Battle is on June 16 at noon.

This year’s Utah Barber Battle is open to both the audience and participants, welcoming individuals of all skill levels. Barbers will compete in three categories: confident cut, fast fade (with a 30-minute timer) and open braid. There will also be an open hair competition, a beard competition and a student category contest. All winners will receive special belts and a cash prize, with amounts ranging up to a few hundred dollars. Owens will also present recognition to runners-up, encouraging them to level up their skills and confidence.

Kevin Owens, a barber, started the first-ever Barber Battle in Ogden. From a very young age, Owens has been taught the importance of his legacy and heritage by both his mother and grandmother. After the first Barber Battle was created, six more Barber Battles were established in Utah in the following years, demonstrating the increase in celebration of local talent and the recognition of Juneteenth. Owens was inspired by icons of barbering excellence, Willie Moore and Billy Mason.

The significance of Juneteenth deeply connects to the Black community’s values and struggles as “barbering and braiding was a way to freedom” for many African Americans. Barber Shops haven’t been only about haircuts, but also about finding a way to promote positive lifestyles.

For many barbers and braiders, this is a way of giving back to the community, improving their craft and making an honest living. Barbering and braiding is a symbol of celebrating young talents, entrepreneurship, reinforcing self-expression and showcasing unique talents that deserve recognition. These skills are a form of art that not only reflects cultural heritage but also emphasizes the importance of finding freedom through positive means and strong will.

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About the Contributors
Wiktoria Kolodziejczyk, Culture Reporter
Anna Kuglar
Anna Kuglar, Photography editor

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