Live music, entertainment and a celebration of culture highlight this year’s Juneteenth festival in Jamestown.
Also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, Juneteenth recognizes when enslaved people living in Galveston, Texas learned of their emancipation approximately two and a half years after the war ended.
On June 19, 1865, enslaved people in Texas were set free; this was the last state in the Confederacy to learn of independence, even though President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.
The annual Juneteenth festival, taking place today through Sunday in the city, will kick off with a free screening of the film. “Sister Act 2” at the National Comedy Center. Kicking off at 6 pm, Friday’s event will feature basket raffles, giveaways and food booths.
“We are very excited to collaborate with the Comedy Center this year, we thank them for their efforts,” said Regina Brackman, Juneteenth president and District 3 City Council representative.
An opening ceremony will kick off the festivities on Saturday, scheduled to begin at 11 am. Saturday’s schedule will feature a variety of live music, entertainment, a basketball tournament and food/craft vendors. Families are encouraged to bring their children to Jackson-Taylor Park from 11 am to 5 pm for games, contests and activities, including a meet with the Jamestown Fire Department. Big names performing for Saturday’s celebration will include blues artist Marsha McWilson, who will perform at 6 p.m., and poet/author Rodney Mitchell at 4 p.m.
On Sunday, live music, vendors and basketball will resume at Jackson-Taylor Park at 11 a.m. after a 9 a.m. morning worship service. Festival goers will also have the opportunity to attend the Carol Faison Memorial Gospel Fest at 3 pm, followed by the announcement of Juneteenth scholarship winners on Sunday night. Awarding black students the Juneteenth scholarship is “an important and significant award that demonstrates our commitment to equity”, Brackmann said.
“We did everything we could to come together and bring something great to Jamestown. I am excited to recognize this holiday and the importance of this day.” Brackmann said.
She added, “I am so grateful for everyone who came to the table to help plan and organize. Wegmans, Dave Warren, Bush Industries, ACME Appliances, Sandee’s Bakery and UPMC Chautauqua have made significant donations or sponsorships that will help enhance the success of this event.”