Juneteenth event getting bigger
STERLING – The annual Juneteenth Community Freedom Festival, which commemorates the end of slavery, is getting bigger every year.
The YWCA of the Sauk Valley held the fifth annual festival Saturday in Propheter Park.
There were more than 30 booths, more than twice what it had 2 years ago. Some residents asked to have booths while the festival was being set up Saturday morning; organizers allowed them to do so.
Click here to see video
Organizations with a presence included the Sterling Police Department and CGH Medical Center.
Rebecca Muñoz-Ripley, one of the organizers, said the YWCA’s national group gave information about Juneteenth festivals to chapters 5 years ago. Shortly after, the local one decided to hold one, putting it together with little time to spare, she said.
“We had a small celebration that year,” she said.
It was held inside the YWCA, but for the last 3 years, it’s been at Propheter Park.
“We want to bring people together and build relationships,” Muñoz-Ripley said.
She said many people don’t know the details behind Juneteenth. June 19, 1865, is the day that the slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned they were free. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but word didn’t get to the Southern state until 2 years later.
At the YWCA booth was a display about some prominent black leaders, including Thurgood Marshall and Frederick Douglass.
Also at the booth was a quilt by Connie Barr of Constantly Stitching & More in Morrison that contained the symbols used on the Underground Railroad to help guide slaves to free states and Canada.
Carolann Cooper, a local elementary school teacher, was at the booth to explain the meaning behind the symbols. She said she took Barr’s quilting class to learn how to make a similar one. She said she is still working on it.
The festival included a basketball tournament, but it was canceled for lack of teams. Organizers said other things going on may have caused participation in the tournament to drop.
Muñoz-Ripley said planning for the next year’s Juneteenth will start next month. For more information, call the YWCA at 815-625-0333.