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Juneteenth festival celebrating end of slavery, bringing communities together
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Destiny Brawner, a young local artist, brought some of her work to sell at the Juneteenth Day Festival on Saturday, June 23, sponsored by the Gainesville-Hall Black History Society on the Gainesville Midtown Greenway. - photo by Kaylee Martin

The Gainesville-Hall County Black Historical Society will hold its seventh-annual Juneteeth Day Festival on Saturday, June 15, from 3-8 p.m. as a celebration of African-American emancipation after the end of the Civil War in 1865.

The festival will take place at the Midtown Greenway and will feature performances, food and art exhibits, all in the name of spotlighting local African-American creators and culture. Gainesville-Hall County Black Historical Society chairwoman Linda Hutchens said Juneteenth is meant as a tribute to the art and music of African-American communities, and that she wants everyone who comes to enjoy themselves while also exposing themselves to the entertainment that will be on display for them.

Juneteenth Day Festival

What: Festival commemorating the end of slavery in 1865, featuring African-American music, food and art

When: 3 p.m Saturday, June 15

Where: Midtown Greenway, 682 Grove St., Gainesville

How much: Free

“We’ll have the vendors there with food and there will be music,” Hutchens said. “We’re going to have a DJ, performances, dance performances and spoken word by a poet and a couple of choirs are going to do music, gospel and otherwise. Just a lot of fun activities.”

Hutchens says she hopes people from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and cultures will come, as she believes the celebration of freedom to be a universal event and appeal to people and families of all kinds.

“It’s just a family and community celebration of freedom as a whole,” Hutchens said. “It’s a multicultural event and opportunity for everybody to celebrate. It’s free to the public and just join us in the fun and the celebration.”

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Beverley Hamin, from left, Linda Hutchens, Stephanie Watkins and other members of the Gainesville-Hall Black History Society perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at the Juneteenth Day Festival on Saturday, June 23, sponsored by the Gainesville-Hall Black History Society on the Midtown Greenway in Gainesville. - photo by Kaylee Martin
As a whole, Hutchens says she hopes Juneteenth can bring together the diverse cultures in Hall County to create a sense of unity, and over the years that the Gainesville-Hall County Black Historical Society has held the festival, Hutchens thinks she’s seeing that vision gradually becoming a reality.

“I think it’s very important that we come together as one community,” Hutchens said. “We can only reach out to others and hope for the best. I’ve noticed an increase in attendance and an increase in the various cultures attending. Although, some years it’s been slight, but I do see an increase. It’s been more diverse.”

The Juneteenth Day Festival will be free to the public, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets and chairs with them to set up.

This year marks 154 years since slavery was abolished in America. Juneteenth is officially observed on June 19, and was formally recognized in the state of Georgia in 2011, making it the 37th state in the country to acknowledge the holiday.

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An honor guard presents the colors during the opening ceremony of Gainesville-Hall Black History Society’s sixth annual Juneteenth celebration on June 23 at the Gainesville Midtown Greenway. - photo by Kaylee Martin
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