HUNTSVILLE — Floats, cars and trail riders will be making their traditional path to the MLK center for this year’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 19, as it returns to its traditional parade and programming after last year’s march.
Juneteenth – also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day and Emancipation Day – marks the day that all slaves in the United States were finally freed, three years after the signing of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865.
For celebration in Huntsville, event organizer and Progressive Women’s Association president Jennifer Harrison is looking forward to the community coming together for a day of learning and fun.
“It’s everyone coming out and being able to enjoy, because it’s been a long year-and-a-half for everyone,” Harrison added.
The event is free, even for those participating in the parade, and is open to the public to attend.
Those interested in participating in the Juneteenth parade will begin to line up their floats, horses or vehicles at the Samuel Walker Houston Museum & Cultural Center on 10th Street at 8 a.m. The parade will follow at 10 a.m., progressing down 10th Street, crossing over to 11th Street at Sam Houston Avenue, continuing to Martin Luther King Dr. and down to Emancipation Park, where the day’s programming and activities will kick off around 11:30 a.m.
Programming events and speakers, including city council member Dee Howard Mullins and Willis ISD educator Carlicia Alexander, will be held inside the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, while activities will take place outside on the park grounds.
One of the highlights of the day will be the eighth annual Juneteenth barbecue cook-off, hosted by E&M Productions. The event has grown in popularity over the years and typically sees around 20 competing teams as a fun way to feed the community.
“It’s about keeping something going and bringing everyone in the community together, all of Huntsville is welcome,” E&M Productions president Eric McCarter said.
The cook-off will commence at 7 a.m., followed by judgement at 10:30 a.m. with the awarding of cash prizes to the winners of the best ribs, best chicken and best all-around categories. Community members will then be able to load up their plates with some of the best barbecue in Walker County.
Region 6 Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Transportation have also partnered to give away free bike helmets as part of their bicycle rodeo for the bike and pedestrian safety program.
Local businesses and social groups will also be onsite, including Grant’s Tax Services and entertainment from Love Dance and Allstar Cheer Company.
“It’ll have a lot of family, friends and fun,” McCarter said. “Juneteenth is for the emancipation of our people, so just don’t forget what it’s all about."
Any groups or individuals interested in participating in the programming or activities can reach Harrison at (936) 730-9397. Registration for the barbecue cook-off is $40, which goes towards the awards pot, and is open until Thursday, June 17. To register, contact McCarter at (936)662-8167.