For the first year ever, Pontotoc County will be hosting a celebration of Juneteenth African American Independence Day on Saturday, June 15, 2019, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and the event is free to the public.

The Pontotoc County Juneteenth Freedom Day Parade and Festival will kickoff at 10 a.m. with a parade down Main Street in Pontotoc. Immediately following the conclusion of the parade an opening ceremony and ribbon cutting will be held at the new train shed pavilion at First Choice Bank Gateway located along College and Reynolds Streets in downtown Pontotoc.

The newly opened train shed pavilion will be the site of all the day’s events, including live entertainment until 4 p.m.

Danielle Williams, Pontotoc County Juneteenth Committee President, said she hopes all local residents will embrace and participate in the Juneteenth celebration.

"Pontotoc city and county residents, its surrounding municipalities and neighboring counties are invited to celebrate this important American holiday with a morning parade and float contest, festival opening ceremony and ribbon cutting, and a Freedom Day Festival complete with vendors, games, and live entertainment,” Williams said.

Juneteenth, the oldest African American holiday, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States after Major General Gordon Granger and his band of Union soldiers were dispatched to Galveston, TX to inform the last group of captive slaves of their immediate freedom on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into affect.

"We hope to provide a necessary outlet of representation and support to the African American community of Pontotoc County while mending sensitive relationships between the diverse groups of citizens who reside within its limits through increased social and civic interaction," Williams said. 

The Pontotoc County Juneteenth Freedom Day Festival itself will be a four hour event free to the entire public and will include vendors, giveaways, live entertainment, a kids' zone, a Juneteenth history exhibit, yard games, and a 3 point shootout contest. There is no fee for participation in any of these activities, including vendor space.

“You can go to the Pontotoc County Juneteenth Committee Facebook page for forms and more details about participation or contact us via email at pontotocjuneteenth@gmail.com. Forms may be returned to the Pontotoc County Juneteenth Committee at P. O. Box 445, Pontotoc, MS 38863. No registrations will be accepted past the May 31st deadline."

Commemorative t-shirts are available for purchase through May 29th at noon. Contact the PCJC via email to order or visit them on Instagram and Facebook to view the design and place your order via PayPal or Cash App.

Sponsors of the first Juneteenth Festival include First Choice Bank, Renasant Bank, Peoples Finance, Pontotoc City Clerk, Melinda Nowicki, Pontotoc Alderwoman, Lena Chewe, Amazing Touch Hair Design, Pontotoc Shell, Reeder’s Farm Supply, East Baptist Church, and College Hill CME Church.

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