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Juneteenth celebration this Saturday
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The ending of slavery in America will again be celebrated in Newton County at the second annual Juneteenth Festival on June 8.

The festival will be held in two parts at two locations, including a family-fun event from noon to 4 p.m., at the Nelson Heights Community Center, and a Black History Gala beginning at 6 p.m., at Under the Stars Banquet Center in Oxford.

The family-fun event will feature refreshments, musical entertainment, food and gift vendors, a bake- and cook-off, a yard sale, a fashion show, and a variety of children’s and adult games. Children’s games will cost 50 cents and will include sack races, miniature golf, basketball and small carnival games, said organizer Terri James.

Some tickets will be given away for free popcorn or snow cones, but all other food must be purchased.

The Nelson Heights Community Center is at the intersection of Laseter and Puckett streets. Vendors can rent booth or table space at the event for $25.

Residents must have tickets to attend the evening gala, which will include dinner, musical and dance performances, sharing of local history, and dancing.

Tickets are $15 per person or $25 per couple and can be ordered in advance by calling James at 404-861-0707. Tickets at the door will be $20 per person or $35 per couple. Under the Stars is at 672 Moore St., Oxford.

Dinner will be chicken, yellow rice, green beans, rolls, tea and peach cobbler, James said. Entertainment will include dance performances by groups from Bethel Grove, Early Hope and Good Hope Baptist churches.

Three of the area’s longest-serving black pastors also will be honored, including Hezekiah Benton of Bethlehem Baptist Church, W.G. Tigner Sr. of Bethel Grove, and Eddie J. Tomlinson of Good Hope.

One key addition to this year’s festivities will be the honoring of 30 of the area’s historic black neighborhoods. At the gala, attendees will sit with their neighborhood tables, if applicable. Co-organizer Gwen Green grew up in Frog Town, which was located on Alcovy Road just north of U.S. Highway 278, where there now are businesses.

Other neighborhoods that will be included are Porterdale, Rose Hill, Warrens Corner, Rich’s Chapel, Stewart’s, Shayne Line, Flat Rock, Petty’s Hill, Green Acres, Harris Town, Livingston, Duluth, East End, Sand Hill, Texas Alley, Nelson Heights, Dixie, Starrsville, Newborn, Mansfield, Short Street, Need More, Bentley’s, Pratt’s Quarters, Aunt Dinah’s Place, Oxford, Spring Hill, Rivers Hill and Jamestown.

James and Green organized the event last year and are leading the effort again this year. They also have helped to spearhead a new local organization, the Newton County Historical Committee on Black Heritage Preservation.
All proceeds from the event will be given to local youths for college scholarships.

James said she hopes for around 300 people at the day portion of Juneteenth and perhaps 200 or more at the gala.

For more information, call James or call Sharon Sawyer at 770-788-0792.