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Greater Valley Juneteenth Festival to be held Saturday

Weather permitting, a big two city Juneteenth Festival will be taking place Saturday, June 19th in West Point and Lanett. It will get under way in West Point River Park and noon and continue until 6 p.m. when activities shifts to downtown Lanett. It concludes with a 9 p.m. fireworks display over the Lanett Mill site.

Approximately 40 vendors will be set up in River Park. They will include food vendors, dealers in arts and crafts and non profits such as the Circle of Care Center for Families and Panthers With Passion. Live music will be performed on a stage.

Guests are invited to bring their lawn chairs or blankets to sit on.

The activities will move to downtown Lanett at 6 p.m. Vendors will set up along the streets, with entertainment taking place in the outdoor park setting next to the Jane Farrar Event Center. “We will have a performance area near the pavilion,” said Lanett Recreation Director Trent McCants. “We will have live entertainment. People will be welcome to bring their lawn chairs and watch nearby. People can bring blankets to sit on the ground and have tables and chairs if they’d like. We want everyone to enjoy the day.”

At 9 p.m., the celebration will then move to the parking lots across from the mill site. “We will have an extraordinary fireworks show,” said Mayor Kyle McCoy. “Guests will be able to park in the old mill parking lots off Highway 29.”

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S. It dates to June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with word that black people were now free. While it had been two-and-a-half years since the Emancipation Proclamation had been announced, it took the military defeat of the South for the decree to have the force of law in the Deep South states. It was further enforced by the 13th Amendments to the Constitution.

“Communities all over the country have been having Juneteenth celebrations for some time now,” said Mayor McCoy. “In 2020, we declared Juneteenth an official holiday in Lanett. Because the holiday falls on a Saturday this year, our holiday will be taking place on Monday, June 21st. City hall will be closed that day, and city employees will have the day off.”

“It’s an exciting time for us to recognize and celebrate Juneteenth,” McCoy continued. “As many know, one of the final battles of the Civil War took place here at Fort Tyler, located on the Alabama-Georgia line between Lanett and West Point. The end of the Civil War closed one of the darkest periods in U.S. history. We feel a special connection to Juneteenth, and on June 19, 2021 we will celebrate a freedom that was afforded to all people in this country. It is up to us to live up to the promises of our forefathers. President Abraham Lincoln stated it so eloquently in the Gettysburg Address, that ‘all men are created equal.’”

McCoy said he is proud for Lanett and West Point to be at the forefront of celebrating Juneteenth. “It’s a privilege to be a pioneer municipality in celebrating Juneteenth,” he said. “Last year we declared it an official city holiday, and this year we are celebrating it with a fireworks show.”