By Paige Nash
Despite widespread storm damage and power outages, the 5-day long Juneteenth celebration went off without a hitch in the Town of Homer.
Juneteenth Festival Chairwoman Tasha Hardaway said, “Everything went great. It was a successful Juneteenth.”
Juneteen is celebrated to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans in the United States. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, enslaved people were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation. However, Juneteenth just obtained legal observance in June of 2021 when President Joe Biden signed the bill making Juneteenth the eleventh American federal holiday. It is also the first to obtain legal observance as a federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was designated in 1983.
Celebrations kicked off on Wednesday, June 14, with a Mr. and Miss Juneteenth pageant at Homer City Hall. The pageant was sponsored by the Town of Homer. It was free for the public to attend and had over 40 participants.
The following morning, festivities began with a free Health Fair. Claiborne Addiction Recovery CARE Center, Claiborne Home Health, Claiborne Family Medical Clinic, Homer Medical Clinic and Butler-Abshire Medical Clinic had booths set up. A community Bike-A-Thon was held that evening.
On Friday, June 16, a Business Lunch and Learn was held at Homer City Hall followed by a Talent Show.
On Saturday, the Juneteenth Parade brought the community together as they watched participants who traveled from Homer High School to Mayfield Park. Former Mayor of Homer David Aubrey served as the Grand Marshal in the parade.
“I was honored to have been invited by Mayor Dr. Seals-Mann and the Juneteenth Planning committee to serve as the Grand Marshal in this year’s parade,” said Aubrey. “As a former mayor and first African American mayor of Homer, Juneteenth is certainly a fitting occasion to come home and share in the celebration. I had a great time sharing with so many family, friends, and community leaders and look forward to doing more.”
The park was full with vendors, games, music and food trucks. Festival goers had just enough time to get home and get ‘red carpet ready.’ Doors opened at 8:30 p.m. for the Juneteenth Sneakerball.
A free Father’s Day Luncheon was held on Sunday, June 18, with the weeklong celebration concluding following a Southern Soul Concert that evening back at Mayfield Park.