NEWBERRY – The second annual Juneteenth event is set for Saturday, June 18, in downtown Newberry. Extended one hour compared to last year’s inaugural event, it will take place from 10 am until 4 pm
According to History.com, Juneteenth (short for June nineteenth) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.
The city’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department has been working with a committee of nine local citizens to assist in coming up with a vision for this year’s event.
Committee members include Jackie Holmes, Carlton Kinard, Barbara Chapman, Margo Whitener, Sheila Brown, Michael Raiford, Tomekia Means, Denise Graham and Linda Hair. Together, the committee has met since January with Bridget Carey, city tourism and events manager.
To continue to build on last year’s vision of having a dedicated space to explain what Juneteenth is, there will be a Juneteenth history and artifacts exhibit again this year in the Newberry Opera House lobby, open to the public throughout the month of June. The exhibit features a timeline-oriented booklet discussing events in Black history that lead to the events of Juneteenth Freedom Day in 1865 and beyond, a large-scale canvas painting, videos celebrating the holiday and artifacts highlighting Newberry’s Black history.
First Steps Newberry County has once again updated their downtown StoryWalk program to feature two storybooks downtown for the community to enjoy. The first, connecting with the “She Said Yes!” Exhibit at The Newberry Museum, called “Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe ”will start at the kiosk outside of the Newberry County Chamber of Commerce. Ann Cole Lowe designed the wedding gown of Jackie Kennedy, and a replica will be on display as part of the exhibit at The Newberry Museum.
The second book, “All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom” will begin at the kiosk in front of the Newberry Opera House. Both books will take readers up and down opposite sides of Main Street until the book is completed.
While the day’s events are spread around downtown Newberry, Carey said they will be centered in Memorial Park around the main stage. The event officially begins at 10 am, however, those interested in showing their support are invited to participate in a march at 9: 30 am beginning at Bethlehem Baptist Church and ending at the event stage in Memorial Park.
At 10 am, the opening ceremony will include a singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” This hymn is commonly referred to as “The Black National Anthem,” and was originally written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900.
The stage will then open for Zumba until 10:45 am, followed by a new addition to this year’s event, the Afrocentric Fashion Show and Pageant. At noon, the stage will then transition into the event’s talent showcase.
The showcase is not a competition, but a way for locals to share their talents, Carey said and includes a little bit of everything from spoken word to musical performance.
From 1-2 pm, Carey said the stage will feature various churches and gospel groups for a gospel show. This will be followed by street dance and live music from 2-4 pm by The Carolina Players with a variety of music.
In the back half of Memorial Park, the Grow Newberry Farmers Market will be featuring their Black-owned business owners and farmers that are commonly at their seasonal market.
Surrounding Memorial Park and Community Hall downtown will be the event’s food court. Foods featured will vary from barbecue to Caribbean to soul food, fair food and specialty drink vendors will include non-alcoholic frozen drinks as well as beer and wine.
Business vendors will be placed along downtown’s Main Street. Businesses include bakeries, clothiers featuring African prints, crafters, decorators, authors, artists and more.
Children’s activities will include an opportunity for children to create paintings with Ernest Lee, better known as South Carolina’s “Chicken Man,” at the Newberry Arts Center on Main Street.
In the Newberry County Courthouse parking lot, local organization PAVE (Preventing Abuse and Violence with Education), Prevention Coalition of Newberry County will be hosting a free basketball hot shot contest complete with prizes. ..
The car show is open to anyone wishing to participate, however, spots in the show are on a first come, first served basis. Carey said there was enough space for around 30 cars.
In addition to the car show, Joy Ride LLC will host black history golf cart tours throughout the event. Pickup for tours will be on Caldwell Street in front of the Newberry County Chamber of Commerce. More information on these tours is available on their Facebook page , by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 877-218-2899.
Main Street will be closed to traffic beginning at 7 am on Saturday, June 18. Carey said all cars were requested to the leave the event zone or risk being towed by Friday evening. The event area includes Main Street, Boyce Street and the Newberry County Courthouse parking lot. The Coca Cola mural parking lot on McKibben Street will be open for handicapped accessible parking.
Parking for the Juneteenth event is free and on a first come, first served basis. A map of public parking areas can be found on the city’s website, www.cityofnewberry.com. For any questions, contact the City of Newberry’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Office at 803-321-1015 prior to the event.
There will be a special event command post with staff from police, fire and emergency services, including first aid and lost and found station, Carey said. This will be located on McKibben Street for anyone that may need assistance during the event.
A map of the event space and more detailed event information can be found online at www.newberryjuneteenth.com.
Elyssa Haven is the Public Relations Coordinator at the City of Newberry.