Celebrate Juneteenth Saturday


Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 12:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 12:48 p.m.

Celebrate Juneteenth at the 5th annual Juneteenth Celebration with music, dancing, a talent-type competition, book giveaways, food and door prizes.

Facts

JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION

What: The 5th annual Juneteenth Celebration with a talent contest, giveaways and food.

When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Cone Park Branch Library, 2841 E. University Ave.

Information: Call 352-334-3909.

The celebration, which will include the "Got Talent!" competition modeled after the NBC hit reality show, "America's Got Talent!," will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Cone Park Branch Library at 2841-A E. University Ave.

In the past, the event was held in the parking lot of Library Partnership at 1130 NE 16th Ave., but this year, the site was changed to Cone Park.

"We wanted to spread out and promote a new location," said Jenkins, manager of Library Partnership.

The celebration is being sponsored by the Cone Park Branch Library, Library Partnership Neighborhood Resource Center, Partnership for Strong Families, local businesses and organizations.

Juneteenth, which is observed on June 19 each year, is the oldest known celebration to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger reached Galveston, Texas, with the news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free. This took place two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which became official on Jan. 1, 1863.

"With their newfound freedom, many former slaves sought to find their family members," said Nickie Kortus, spokesperson for the Alachua County Library District. "This is why so many black Americans hold family reunions today."

Some organizations will provide activities for children, such as face painting, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., and food, including hot dogs, will be provided.

Jenkins said this year the competition has been expanded from just a singing competition to a talent competition with poetry, music, singing, dancing and drama.

One of the highlights of the entertainment will be the "Got Talent!" In April and May, area middle and high school students auditioned for three spots in the talent competition.

Three finalists will perform for the Juneteenth crowd and compete for bragging rights and prizes that will include a VISA gift card for $100 for first place, $75 for second place, and $50 for third place.

Nate Courtney, senior librarian at Cone Park, said the entertainment also will feature local artists, including Karen Johnson performing a tribute to the legendary blues singer Billie Holiday, the LaVern Porter Dancers, Africa 2000, gospel group Marion Clark and New Vision, The Salvation Army Youth Choir, Lanard Perry on saxophone, rapper Fleetwood and jazz/R&B singer Quintina Crawford.

Carressa Hutchinson, resource center manager at Library Partnership, said Alachua County Commissioner Chuck Chestnut will serve as master of ceremonies.

Organizations and groups such as Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, FloridaWorks, Compassionate Outreach Ministries, CDS Family and Behavioral Health Services, City of Gainesville Parks and Recreation and the Gainesville Police Department will be on hand to provide information about their programs.

And children, teens and adults will have an opportunity to sign up for the Library District's Summer Reading Program.

Hutchinson said last year, more than 200 people attended the event at Library Partnership.

"Everything is free," Hutchinson said.

"We want people to enjoy themselves."

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