Last updated: June 17. 2014 8:45PM - 331 Views
By - ncooke@civitasmedia.com

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A full schedule of events is planned for the Sedalia Juneteenth Celebration this Saturday at Hubbard Park.

Festivities begin at 1 p.m. with an opening ceremony, and activities include an egg toss, a cakewalk, limbo, pinatas, a watermelon eating contest, and a pie throwing contest. In an effort to encourage more people to attend the day-long event, a new event is being introduced this year: tug-of-war with Sedalia Police Department officers.

“We’re hoping to get a group of people willing to take on the police in tug-of-war,” said NAACP President Rhonda Chalfant. “We hope to for it to be a yearly thing and grow, with the fire department, local organizations, anyone who wants to participate. We would really like it to grow into a major part of the day.”

Food will be for sale from various vendors throughout the day. From 2 to 5 p.m., DJ Malcolm Briscoe will provide music, and from 5 to 7 p.m. the James Whitney Band will perform, which Chalfant described as “bluesy. A good beat and you can dance to it, to borrow a phrase from American Bandstand.”

There will also be a three-on-three basketball tournament at 2 p.m. People wishing to play should contact Nick La Strada at 281-7767. A three-on-three volleyball tournament will take place as well, and those wishing to participate should contact Noah Poole at 827-4182.

In addition to the fun family activities, Juneteenth will also play host to a candidate forum for the prosecuting attorney and circuit judge candidates. Those in attendance will have the opportunity to ask questions during the forum, which begins at 3 p.m.

“We have done this in the past, in election years it has been a very popular feature,” Chalfant said. “We’re focusing on the two local elections people are the most interested in. County auditor is an important position, but it’s not something people in Sedalia encounter on a daily basis. Encounters with the court system is an important part of our lives all the time.”

While the Juneteenth Celebration is a fun day for the community, it also marks an important day in history. Juneteenth, which is June 19, commemorates the day in June 1985 when slaves in Texas learned the Civil War was over. Today, the celebration has spread all over the country as a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.

“It’s the day when Texas slaves were informed the war was over and they were free. Their owners had tried to keep the ending of the war secret from them, but troops came in and told people the war was over,” Chalfant said.

“It’s important we recognize the history of slavery, and the impact slavery had on our country. Much of our wealth came from slave labor and we have to recognize that and what it took to achieve emancipation: a wretchedly terrible war, atrocities committed by regular and irregular troops, all to serve the purpose of eliminating an institution that should never have existed in this country in the first place.”

For more information, contact Beverly Clark at 827-1400, Steve Boggs at 287-6854 or Chalfant at 826-5592.

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