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Port Allen gears up for bigger, better 'Juneteenth' celebration

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PORT ALLEN - The City of Port Allen is going all out for this year's Juneteenth Freedom Festival.

More than just a festival, it's a full-on carnival with rides, food and games.

Residents have been celebrating Juneteenth here for almost 20 years. But this year, the city kicked in some extra funds.

"We brought it to the city council and they went along with it. It's grown bigger this year. Much better, much bigger," Mayor Pro Tem Ray Helen Lawrence said, 

Juneteenth is also a big deal in Baton Rouge.

Over at Gus Young Park, dozens of vendors set up informational booths. There's free food, like hot, boiled turkey necks, as well as live entertainment,

"We come together at this time in fellowship, in unity in this community and it's always a wonderful experience," organizer C. Denise Marcelle said.

Juneteenth actually stems back to the time of slavery in this country.

On June 19th, 1865, African-American slaves in Texas finally got word of of their freedom more than two years after all other slaves were declared free in the United States. Many years later, a festival was established in honor of the occasion. 

The operator of the Odell Williams Museum of African America history in Baton Rouge, Sadie Roberts-Joseph, has been hosting Junenteenth activities for 26 years. But for her, it's just as much an opportunity to educate as it is to celebrate.

"And take a look at how exciting it must have been to finally find out that your prayers were answered and that you are free individual," Roberts-Joseph said. "That's why we celebrate."


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