For some in the midstate, independence will be celebrated a little earlier than the Fourth of July.
Presented by Kwanzaa Cultural Access Center and Torchlight Academy Inc., the 21st annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival, being held Saturday in Tattnall Square Park, marks the oldest nationally recognized African-American holiday in the U.S., originating in Galveston, Texas, in 1866 and marking the end of slavery, according to a news release.
The festival starts at noon with vendors of art, artifacts, books and more. Programs will begin at 3 p.m. with an opening prayer, libations, a tribute to ancestors and an African drum call, said festival organizer George Muhammad. A statement of purpose, proclamations by city and county leaders and other community speakers will follow.
Tuskegee Airmen and Black Union Soldiers will be present both on stage and in living history exhibits.
Union Soldiers are a key element of what Juneteenth is all about; thats why theyre always part of the festival, Muhammad said. The Tuskegee Airmen are an example of black Americans in the military and their role in the course of Americas affairs. Its important to remember their contribution.
Another featured exhibit will be on urban gardening.
Based on the phrase and book by Middle Georgian Frank Muhammad, the exhibit will show people how they can grow where they live.
A few local gardeners and hopefully a farmer with fresh produce will be there to encourage people to start gardens. Whether they live in an apartment or a house, gardening can be done economically, George Muhammad said.
In addition to the speakers, there will be live performances by soul artist Black Pearl, soul and R&B singer Que and singer Lashone Brown.
The Middle Georgia Jazz & Blues All Stars and Terrie Ajile Axams African and modern dance ensemble Total Dance also will be highlights of the days entertainment.
While the whole day is family friendly, children can get actively involved in horseshoes, tug of war, soccer and golf, and indigo dyer Arianne King-Comer will be doing some hands-on activities for youth and their families.
Food vendors will specialize in healthy fare, Muhammad said, but festival goers may bring in a treat a little less diet-friendly.
Weve added a pound cake contest this year to touch peoples taste buds. People may bring their pound cake in that day, and they will be judged and awards will be given out, he said.
The festival will wrap up at sundown.
Juneteenth Freedom Festival
When: Noon-sundown Saturday
Where: Tattnall Square Park, downtown Macon