Camden kicks off Juneteenth weekend

The Camden Juneteenth Celebration will be observed from June 16-18 this year but will be in partnership with several other events throughout the month.

Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger's regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

A celebration in recognition of the holiday was established by a group of beauticians in Camden who came together to form the South Arkansas Cultural Association in the early 90's. Since then, several organizations have stepped in to offer their support to make Camden's Juneteenth Celebration one of the biggest in Arkansas. The Juneteenth Planning Committee is made up by local educators, promoters, barbers and liaisons from local civic groups and organizations.

This year, the group is exploring new activities as well as revisiting past events. The Juneteenth Libation was a staple during the weekend in the past and will be again as it will be held at 5 p.m. at Shiloh Baptist Church on Friday. The purpose of the ceremony will be to honor those who sacrificed for freedom as well as recognizeand spread awareness about the Lafayette Gym Restoration project. The group will also hold it's first Greek Picnic on Saturday. Each event is free and open to everyone to attend.

The organization has been a part of several events throughout the month including the Impact Camden Juneteenth Jumble Sale for young entrepreneurs that was held the first weekend of the month and the the Junetwist Paint & Sip which is the groups main fundraiser that was held last weekend.

Below is a schedule of events along with a description of each:

June 17 - Camden Juneteenth Fun Day and Greek Picnic/Ouachita County Ministerial Alliance Banquet

Calling all Greek Organizations, Civic Clubs, Churches and kids to bring their tents to Carnes Park for a peaceful summer events. Vendors will be in attendance. The event will start at 4 p.m. The Ouachita County Ministerial Alliance Scholarship Banquet will be at 6 p.m. at The Word Family Church.

June 18 - Juneteenth Car Show

The show will start at 3 p.m. There is a $20 fee for contestants with registration closing at 4:30 p.m. The event is at Carnes Park.