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Donaldsonville Juneteenth Music Festival celebrates 29 years

1 month 6 days 15 hours ago Saturday, June 15 2024 Jun 15, 2024 June 15, 2024 7:00 PM June 15, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

DONALDSONVILLE - Donaldsonville residents celebrated at the town's 29th annual Juneteenth Music Festival on Saturday. 

Even though the federal holiday is always on June 19 — in commemoration of the day in 1865 when the last slaves in Galveston, Texas were notified of their freedom — Louisianians kicked off celebrations over the weekend.

Donaldsonville's Juneteenth Music Festival was started in 1995 by then-mayor Bernard Francis Sr. and his wife Janet. The pair put together a small event, with only a few families attending.

Nearly 30 years later, it has become an annual staple of Donaldsonville, bringing a diverse group of people to the area each year. The festival is now led by the Francis' daughter Tamiko Garrison, who continues her parents tradition with her family now.

"Here in Donaldsonville, it's a diverse community, we love this area. There's so much history in Donaldsonville," Garrison said. "We're the the third oldest city, we had the first African-American mayor back in 1868 in the entire United States."

This years fest featured live music from Angel of Faith, Total Control Band, the Michael Foster Project and more. Organizers say the festival's focus on music is representative of the town's history and its people.

"As a matter of fact, when you talk about music, Claiborne Williams, one of the best Jazz musicians and also a teacher of music, lived here in the city of Donaldsonville," Mayor Leroy Sullivan said.

The festival wouldn't be complete without dozens of tents selling jambalaya, gumbo and smoked barbecue. Most of the businesses are Black owned, as the festival has always celebrated African-American excellence in Donaldsonville and beyond. 

"It's a celebration of bringing together people not just in Donaldsonville, but all over the state of Louisiana," Sullivan said. " It's the togetherness."

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