Bigger, better Juneteenth

TUPELO – For 10 years of Juneteenth celebrations in Tupelo, the city is celebrating with four events.
From parties to a festival to skating, there’s a little bit of everything for every taste – especially for music fans.
“We’ve got gospel, rhythm and blues, soul, rock, hip-hop – but it’s all clean,” said Melonie Kight, a sales manager for Urban Radio and a Juneteenth festival organizer. “This is family-friendly event.”
Music and more
Rapper Twista will perform at Friday night’s kick-off party at The Summit in Tupelo.
Twista, best known for his hits “Slow Jamz,” “Hope” and “Girl Tonight,” will soon release his next album, “Category F5.”
“The party is really to set the pace for the weekend,” Kight said.
The biggest celebration this year is the festival at Ballard Park.
There will be music, food, arts and crafts and kids’ events like facepainting and inflatables, Kight said.
The music at Ballard will kick off at about 12:30 p.m. and will begin with gospel artists Mushell Munday, Gospel Truelights and Monica Surrell. R&B singer Pretty Willie follows, and hip-hop artists J-Money, Richie Rich, MV Doughboy, Karmah and DJ Juice will perform as well. The headliner at Ballard Park is rapper Hurricane Chris.
Louisiana native Hurricane Chris scored his biggest hit, “A Bay Bay,” in 2007. The rapper is currently promoting his latest single, “Halle Berry (She’s Fine)” and will release a new album, “Unleashed,” later this summer.
Bring plenty of sunscreen and lawn chairs or blankets to Ballard Park, Kight said.
“This is our 10th annual (Juneteenth festival), and we’re making it bigger and better,” Kight said. “We want everybody to come out and have a good time.”
Two events are planned for Saturday night.
A skate party for kids 18 and under will start at 8 p.m. at Skate Zone.
An hour later, the All White Affair at the Link Centre will get under way, with Pretty Willie performing.
Kight encourages everyone to enjoy Juneteenth celebrations.
“It does celebrate African-American freedom,” Kight said, “but this is something for everyone.”

Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal