The annual Juneteenth Festival, sponsored by 92.5 Jamz, went through sort of a face-lift this year. There was no headlining rap act, no live gospel singing and no dance contests like years past. Instead of filling the main stage at Ballard Park with loud, crowd-pumping performances that packed the park's lawn with hundreds of young people, organizers decided to go with a smaller, more family-oriented theme.
Organizers scheduled dance contests, poetry readings, vendors, kids activities and more, and dozens of people showed up.
Juneteenth recognizes when the last American slaves learned they were free more than two and a half years after the rest of the world. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
Stan Allen, one of the hosts of the event, along with Cee Cee Jackson, said even though the festival didn't boast the same attendance numbers as years past, he was glad to see the people who did come have a good time.
"We were going for a more family-oriented event this year," said Allen. "We don't have the live acts this year, but the people are enjoying themselves and that's what we like to see."
Robert Ferguson and his family strolled over to the festival, lured by the smell of barbecue and sound of the music. Ferguson, who lives in Fulton, said he'd never attended a Juneteenth in Tupelo but enjoyed it.
"It's nice out today and it's always good to get outside on nice days," said Ferguson. "Good music, good food make it a pretty good day for me."
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or email@example.com.