Donaldsonville’s Juneteenth Freedom Festival will celebrate children this year, organizer Tamiko Francis Garrison said.

“It’s All About Children” is the theme of this year’s June 8 celebration in Louisiana Square, the 17th for the city.

Juneteenth commemorates the day when slaves in the last geographic area in America where slavery existed learned of their freedom, she said.

“This took place on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, when Union General Gordon Granger read General Order No. 3, announcing that ‘all slaves are free’ by Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln,” Garrison said.

Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, and issued it on Jan. 1, 1863, but it took more than two years for the news to travel to southwest Texas.

“Juneteenth is a landmark in history, a celebration of freedom and the end of enslavement in America,” the Rev. Ronald V. Myers Sr., founder and chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation and the National Juneteenth Jazz Artist, said.

The city and the festival committee are committed to continue the tradition started in Donaldsonville by former Mayor B.J. Francis Sr. and his wife, the late Janet G. Francis, in 1996 and continued throughout the years by Kathe Hambrick of the River Road African American Museum, Garrison said.

The Donaldsonville celebration starts at 11 a.m.

The lineup includes a drum line competition featuring Donaldsonville High School, McKinley High School and Tara High School; host comedians Bigg Sexxy and Lil Sexy Red; River Road African American Museum Society; the Silhouette Dance Ensemble of New Orleans; and the Michael Foster Project.

“Each participant and vendor will have a youth shadow them to teach them about their business, whether it’s singing, dancing, playing an instrument, cooking or making snowballs,” Garrison said.

For information on festival sponsorships or vendor booths, call Allison Hudson at (504) 610-3292 or Garrison at (225) 803-4042.