Music, food, shopping and family fun are on tap for the 20th annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival, set from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Louisiana Square on Railroad Avenue in Donaldsonville.
The festival kicks off Saturday with prayer and an explanation on the history of Juneteenth celebrations.
Festival organizers said Juneteenth celebrations commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, that all slaves had been freed by proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln. It came more than 21/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on Sept. 22, 1862.
The Donaldsonville Juneteenth committee has carried on the tradition since its inception in 1996. Started by former Donaldsonville Mayor B.J. Francis Sr. and his wife, Janet Ganes Francis, it has continued through efforts from the River Road African American Museum and others in the community.
In 2011, Donaldsonville, in conjunction with Tamiko Francis Garrison, Allison Hudson and Councilman Oliver Joseph, began working to keep the tradition going. The family-oriented event is free and open to the public.
The festival menu includes fried chicken wings, jambalaya, smoked turkey legs, pork sandwiches, fried turkey wings, nachos, funnel cakes, pies, homemade lemonade and other foods.
The River Road African American Museum Sign Language Ensemble is set to perform at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, and cheerleaders will take the stage at noon.
Red Beans and Rice Mondays House Band, featuring Lori St. George, Betsy Braud Hodnett, Ernest Jackson and Michael Foster; RendezvouX The Band; and Universal Language will play from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday’s musical lineup includes gospel choirs and performances.
For information, call Garrison at (225) 803-4042 or Hudson at (504) 563-3389.