The eighth annual Juneteenth festival drew around 1,000 to Rocket Ball Park last weekend with music, food and fun.
“There were about 1,000 people who attended the event and many were first-timers who said they had a really good time,” said Nelson Ramsey of Young Men United which has organized the annual event since 2005. “The entertainment was great and everybody did a great job.”
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The beginnings of the observance came when Union troops landed in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 and revealed news of the Emancipation Proclamation which had been made into law two years earlier.
Due to the few Union troops there, the Proclamation would have been impossible to enforce prior to the end of the Civil War. It is also said the messenger who was to deliver news of the Proclamation in 1863 was murdered on the way to Galveston.
Others say slave owners intentionally withheld news of the Proclamation to keep its slave labor force intact during the war.
Locally, Juneteenth offers those who attend a wide array of food as vendors attend from around the Midstate cooking up BBQ, catfish, chitlins and burgers.
The event also has games for children, as well as concerts all day long. This year featured Blast from the Past and the Fire House Band, along with numerous local acts such Nelson Ramsey and Virgil Jones doing the Blues Brothers and Swagg Nation featuring D.J. Braston, rapper Malik King and Tyrek Ladet.