Juneteenth festival set for Lanett

Published 11:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2022

Every year, hundreds of people attend the Greater Valley Area Juneteenth committee’s Juneteenth Festival, according to Juneteenth education chairperson Trudye Johnson. It’s a regionally popular event that often attracts people from as far away as Opelika and LaGrange.

“When the slaves got the news in 1865 that they were free, that Abraham Lincoln had freed the slaves, they broke out into praise, worship and celebration,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to educate the community about what Juneteenth really means. It’s a part of our history. And then, we have all of these fun things to do to bring together all kinds of cultures and families.”

This year’s festival will have food vendors, arts and crafts, games, face painting and live music. It will take place on Saturday, June 18 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. in downtown Lanett at ​​401 North Lanier Avenue. The City of Lanett will shoot fireworks from the old Lanett Mill site at 7:30 p.m. The event will be free and open to everyone.

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“The Greater Valley Juneteenth committee has been in existence probably 11 years,” Johnson said. “And this probably is our 10th celebration.”

There will be 13 food trucks. They will sell barbecue, funnel cakes, pork skins, lemonade, hamburgers, hot dogs, fried fish, cotton candy, ice cream, buttered popcorn and ribs.

“We have entertainers coming from all over the region,” Johnson said. “Atlanta, LaFayette, LaGrange, Roanoke, Mississippi and of course right here in the Valley area. In addition, there will be dancing, dance groups.”

The music performed will be rhythm and blues, gospel and contemporary rap. Mello Oowee, a local rap artist, will perform at 6 p.m.

King’s Jumpers will provide an obstacle course and a 17-foot-high slide. There will be smaller games such as basketball shooting.

Johnson said there will be a storyteller, a bloodmobile and representatives from local organizations such as Circle of Care.

“There’s a gentleman coming in to sell Auburn, Alabama and Georgia sports gear,” she said.

Lanett Mayor Jamie Heard and West Point Mayor Steve Tramell will give welcome speeches.

The emcee will be Cameron Reed, who established the Reed Foundation.

“Cameron graduated from Lanett High School in 2017,” Johnson said. “He works now for the Chicago Bears, and he is the administrator of all their equipment.”

The sponsors for this event are the City of Lanett, the West Point Downtown Development Authority, EAMC-Lanier Hospital, Givorns Foods, sewingmachine.com, Kenny Knox Tire, Johnson Caldwell McCoy, Chattahoochee Valley Credit Union and Vines Funeral home.

The chairman of the Greater Valley Area Juneteenth committee is Brittany Simmons. The co-chair is Carmen McCoy. The committee held its first Juneteenth festival at ​​Goodsell United Methodist Church in Lanett. It also holds other events throughout the year.

“We have held banquets, we did a Juneteenth tool kit, we do an essay contest that runs in the schools,” Johnson said. “It’s a year-round opportunity. And then, in the summer months, we do this festival.”

Johnson also said the committee holds a chili cookoff.