Juneteenth celebration is Saturday

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hundreds of children can enjoy some fun in the sun Saturday and celebrate history without even realizing it.

The eighth annual Oxford Juneteenth Festival is from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Oxford Intermediate School’s parking lot. The family-oriented event will include entertainment, water slides, face-painting, hotdogs, local vendors and giveaways all day.

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Juneteenth first started as a celebration marking the end of slavery in the United States. It was June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers announced in Texas that those enslaved were free. Oxford residents first started the celebration locally to bring that message.

“Juneteenth was started eight years ago by Pastor Debra Palmer and the neighbors of Martin Luther King Jr. Circle and Drive area,” said coordinator Kesha Howell Atkinson. “She wanted to have a block party but one with a purpose and she introduced the history of Juneteenth to our neighbors and Oxford.”

Now the Oxford Juneteenth community, which includes neighbors from the Martin Luther King Jr. area, keeps the event going.

About 1,000 people usually show up to the event, with at least 200 children.

“It’s important to have this event to celebrate our kids and families in the Oxford area,” Atkinson said. “A time to relax with families and reunite with old friends. We want everyone to come out to the festival — it’s for the city of Oxford and Lafayette County.”

For more information, look up Oxford Juneteenth on Facebook.