EDEN PARK - Despite the humidity, thousands celebrated at the 25th Annual Juneteenth Festival.
The festival features historical re-enactments and exhibits, craft demonstrations, food, artwork and live music.
Staffed completely by volunteers, this non-profit festival started its tradition in Cincinnati in 1988, as a way to celebrate the freedom of slaves.
The festival commemorates June 19, known as Juneteenth or Emancipation Day.
"They should realize the importance of remembering our history and the importance of coming together for the celebration... the importance of our ancestors, what they fought for, what they believed. The importance of human rights for all people," said Frederick and Jacquelyn Smith, Civil War re-enactors at this year’s Juneteenth Festival.
Those younger festival-goers came out for a similar reason in mind.
"I pray for all of those that were in slavery, so, and how they fought for all the black people, so that we could have our freedom," said Miles McBride, an All-Ohio Purple Basketball Player, who was at the festival raising money with his team for the State Championships.
According the Juneteenth Festival’s website, although July 4, marks the American colonies' 1776 Declaration of Independence from Britain, the founding fathers did not include America's enslaved people among "all men" who had been "created equal." Juneteenth celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation, issued almost a century after the Declaration of Independence, on June 19, 1865.
The festival has grown over the years, with nearly 20,000 attendees.
The festival includes traditional storytelling, magic acts, sack races, sweet potato pie bake-off, and music—ranging from the blues to African drumming, from gospel to reggae.
The Juneteenth Festival continues Sunday, from 2:30 to 6 p.m., in Eden Park.
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