JESSAMINE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Juneteenth is the newly recognized federal holiday that marks the day the news of the end of slavery reached African Americans in Texas.
Communities across central Kentucky are celebrating the day, some are even celebrating all weekend long. Lexington will kick off its celebrations this Saturday, beginning with a Soulteenth event at Moondance amphitheater. Celebrations will continue with a jubilee, festival, and more.
Juneteenth has a history of celebration that goes back more than 100 years. Jessamine County's Hervey Town Juneteenth organizers are preparing for their second annual event this Saturday at Clint Hayden Park.
Event organizer Tamar Sanders says, "You can get a free meal, and you can enjoy the activities that will be here and the live music that we will again have this year."
Sanders explains that this is more than just an event in the park, but a chance for the community to learn the history of Juneteenth and of the Hervey Town community. She also describes it as a community reunion, because so many people have moved away that took part in the planning.
"It's just a really great opportunity for people to connect, people to network and again it just shows that people are interested, and people care," said Sanders.
Community organizers say that this county has come a long way in being inclusive and celebrating other cultures. Martha Thomas, who works with the Black cemetery board that oversees cemeteries like Locust Grove. Thomas says events like these remind the community of the past, but also show where it's going.
"For one, it's a celebration of our character, our ancestors. Things that they were deprived of that we are able to succeed and reach nowadays,” says Thomas.
Sanders shared that so many African American families in this area have heritage that pre-dates Jessamine County itself. They want to use this event to bring the community together to learn more about the national tradition of Juneteenth, and the rich history in the area.
"We're gonna have an area, that's gonna be set up kind of like an art gallery with pictures and descriptions so that you can walk around and you can get to know this area as well -- to encourage people to come back to this area for future events,” says Sanders.
Last year's Hervey Town Juneteenth event brought out more than 200 people. This year leaders expect even people to come out. The event will be held this Saturday, June 18, at Clint Hayden Park on East Chestnut Street in Nicholasville.