Two-weekend Juneteenth extravaganza

Published 8:30 am Thursday, June 8, 2023

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LANETT — Juneteenth 2023 will be celebrated this year on not one but two weekends and in two locations.

Everyone is invited and all events will be free.

A Gospel Fest will be taking place on the L.B. Sykes ball fields starting at 5 p.m. EDT on Saturday, June 10. Food vendors will be on site. Attendees are invited to bring their favorite lawn chair along with a pop-up tent or umbrella.

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A stage will be set up, and Bishop Winston Fannings will emcee the event. Among the scheduled performers will be Full Armour, Star Wonder, the Virtual Singers, Tabernacle of Praise, the Vision Community Choir, Torrence Rudd and the Power Chapel Praise Team, the Singing Disciples and more.

On Saturday, June 17, a community-wide Juneteenth Festival will be taking place in downtown Lanett. The downtown area will be closed to traffic, and the stage will be set up in front of the Jane Farrar Event Center. Vendors will be selling food throughout the downtown area. There will be jumpers and rides on a miniature train for the kids. The week of Juneteenth, children in the third, fourth and fifth grades can join in the fun of a scavenger hunt. Clues for the hunt are available at the L.B. Sykes Community Center. Winners will be recognized on stage during the Juneteenth Festival.

The annual Juneteenth Celebration is organized by the Greater Valley Area Juneteenth Committee, which is chaired by Carmen McCoy.

“They do a great job,” said Lanett Recreation Director Trent McCants. “They start planning for each year’s celebration many months in advance.”

Local Juneteenth celebrations have been taking place for more than a decade now. They started out on the grounds of Goodsell Methodist Church for several years before relocating to West Point for a couple of years. This is the third year they have been back in Lanett.

Weather permitting, the June 17 festival will conclude with a fireworks show over the Lanett Mill site.

Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the U.S. commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It gets it name by combining “June” and ‘nineteenth.” On that day in 1865, African-Americans living in Galveston, Texas, were notified by Major General Gordon Granger that they were now free. Juneteenth has been a federal holiday since being signed into law in 2021 by President Joe Biden.

In 1866, the first of the annual Juneteenth celebrations were centered around church activities in Texas. All 50 states and the District of Columbia now recognize Juneteenth as a holiday or observance and more than 20 states and D.C. have designated it a paid holiday.