NORRISTOWN – Hundreds of people will come together to celebrate Juneteenth over the next few days at several events across Montgomery County.

Happenings range from festivals to a flag raising ceremony and tours of a historic site.

“We’re here today celebrating Juneteenth, which is the commemoration of the end of slavery, but also to celebrate the fact that we’re answered prayers for all of our ancestors who survived so we could survive,” Tracie Henry, special events coordinator for the Municipality of Norristown, told MediaNews Group last year.

Henry is once again spearheading the Municipality of Norristown’s Juneteenth Jubilee Street Festival. The third annual event is scheduled to take place rain or shine from 12-6 p.m. on June 19 at the intersection of DeKalb and Main streets. Attendees can expect live entertainment, food, drinks, and shopping at a myriad of local vendors at the free festival. Parking is available at the SEPTA parking garage on Lafayette Street.

Performances are slated to include Rich Flow, Blake Winters and Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble. An “artistic living history” presentation is also expected from Millicent Sparks, according to municipal officials.

“Juneteenth is a very important milestone in American history, the holiday serves as a day to not only celebrate the ending of slavery, but to gain a deeper understanding of the people and events that have shaped the African-American experience in our country,” Henry said in a statement.

Juneteenth, observed June 19, marks the day Union Major General Gordon Granger and his soldiers reached Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to inform those there that the “war had ended and that the enslaved were now free,” according to the National Registry of Juneteenth Organizations and Supporters. The 13th amendment, passed in January 1865 in the U.S. Constitution, was later ratified in December 1865 to abolish slavery nationwide, according to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Legislation signed by former Gov. Tom Wolf in 2019 designated June 19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in Pennsylvania. It became a county holiday in 2020, and a federal holiday in 2021.

Also in the county seat, officials will raise the Juneteenth flag at 10 a.m. on June 18 outside the Montgomery County Courthouse. Along with remarks, winners of the county’s Art and Prose of Freedom Youth Contest are expected to be recognized.

Juneteenth festivals are being held over the weekend in other parts of Montgomery County on Saturday.

Hosted by the Black Business Association of the North Penn area, the fifth annual Juneteenth Cometh is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Plains Park, 50 W. Orvilla Road, Hatfield. Crafts, food, music, and cultural activities are expected, according to NAACP Ambler branch president Shaykh Anwar Muhammad. It’s sponsored by the Black Reserve Bookstore and NAACP’s Ambler branch.

The Black Reserve Bookstore in Lansdale was among the businesses featured at the Black Business Association of the North Penn area's fourth annual Juneteenth celebration at Plains Park in Hatfield Township on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Lansdale Police)
The Black Reserve Bookstore in Lansdale was among the businesses featured at the Black Business Association of the North Penn area’s fourth annual Juneteenth celebration at Plains Park in Hatfield Township on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Lansdale Police)

Pottstown’s Juneteenth Celebration is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday along High Street, between Charlotte and York streets. Attendees can enjoy several activities during the festival, including musical performances, face painting, health screenings, a car show, and Black history exhibition, according to the event’s website. Visit pottstownjuneteenth.com to learn more.

Additionally, the Peter Wentz Farmstead will hold free tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 2030 Shearer Road, in Worcester Township. It’s designated as a “National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site, according to the Montgomery County website.

“We will be offering special tours throughout the weekend focusing on the lives of the enslaved people owned by the Wentz family and how their stories connect to the larger history of slavery in early Pennsylvania,” read a post on the Montgomery County website.

The tour is expected to feature a man named Jack, who county officials characterized as “a freedom seeker owned by Peter Wentz who escaped twice from the Farmstead,” as well as Hannah Till and William Lee, “enslaved people who were brought here with General George Washington during the Philadelphia Campaign.”

Those interested in taking a tour at the farmstead must register online. Visit events.humanitix.com/peter-wentz-farmstead-juneteenth-tours for more information.