Juneteenth event continues to grow in LaGrange

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, June 18, 2024

On Saturday, residents braved the summer heat to fill Calumet Park in LaGrange in celebration of America’s second independence day, Juneteenth.

The official holiday is on June 19, which marks the end of slavery in the United States with the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas in 1865. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021 but celebrations date back to churches in the south shortly after the Civil War.

The Juneteenth celebration in LaGrange was started by Diana Cofield four years ago in Calumet Park on Union Street. That first year was hampered by rain but the celebration has grown by leaps and bounds since, though Cofield said she has had to have someone younger to help. Lashieka Ferrell has since taken over organizing the event.

This year’s theme is ‘It’s a family affair.’ Ferrell said they hoped to have plenty of families attending the event so they can learn more about the history of the holiday.

“We’re taking a look back at our history, so we can see where we came from and so we know where we’re going,” Ferrell said. “That’s what we’re focusing on for Juneteenth and for the future of our black community.”

Ferrell said the event has grown since its inception. Last year, more than 200 attended the event but this year they expect to see 300 or more.

Each year the Juneteenth event offers fun for the whole family with speakers, music, games and activities throughout the day for kids. 

Vendors and community organizations were also invited to set up tents to share their offerings. Food trucks were also abound so there was no shortage of food.

Ferrell said they plan to continue the event as an annual tradition for the park and LaGrange. She said the celebration is for everyone, not just the Calumet community or the African American community,

“We want all people to come and join us, not just African American,“ Ferrell said. “We want everyone in the whole, entire LaGrange to come out and have a good time.”