Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Orange Juneteenth Festival set for weekend family entertainment

Like celebrations more than 150 years ago, Juneteenth in Orange will include music, food, fellowship, and prayer.

The Orange Mardi Gras Krewe de Onyx is sponsoring its Second Annual Juneteenth Festival this weekend at the Orange Boat Ramp off Simmons Drive. Gates will open at 4 p.m. on Friday, June 16, Saturday, June 17, and Sunday, June 18, for a variety of live musical performances.

All events are free, but food and drink vendors will charge for their items. People should bring lawn chairs to sit and enjoy the programs. No pets, coolers, or outside alcoholic beverages will be allowed.

Attendees may also want to wear their dancing shoes for all the jazz, party music, and Cajun zydeco tunes that will be rocking the pavilion.

Sunday at 10 a.m., a community wide prayer service will be held at the Boat Ramp's Riverside Pavilion. Orange Mayor Larry Spears will give the opening remarks, with Jayden Miller providing a son. Guest speaker will be Pastor Benny Smith, a West Orange-Cove educator and Methodist minister who is now pastor at Faith Methodist Church in Orange.

Teenager Nia Lewis, founder of the Teens Making a Difference group, will give a history of Juneteenth. Deacon Melvin Payne of St. Mary and St. Therese Catholic churches in Orange will give a prayer, and Wayne Sparrow will present closing remarks.

During the service, Krewe de Onyx will honor local civic leaders, including businessman Al Granger, Bennie Smith, Bonnie Perry, and Mayor Spears.

Musical entertainment will begin Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 5 p.m. with gates opening at 4 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the Made You Look Car Club from Lafayette will display their collectible vehicles from 4 to 6 p.m. Each day will also include activities for children.

Last year, President Joe Biden made Juneteenth an official national holiday as through the years, the Texas-born celebration of freedom spread across the states.

The holiday was first held in Galveston on June 19, 1866, to celebrate the first year anniversary that enslaved people in Texas learned they were free.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation for enslaved people in the confederate states in 1863. The confederacy considered itself a separate country and did not recognize the United States president, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Word of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston on June 19, 1865, two months after the war ended. U.S. Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with 2,000 U.S. troops and read the proclamation to citizens.

The next year, the free people of Galveston celebrated the anniversary with prayer meetings, singing, wearing new clothes, and sharing food. The celebration spread to neighboring counties, then other states.

On Friday evening, jazz saxophonist Perry Richard, who is originally from Orange, will perform from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The Soileau Band featuring zydeco music from Louisiana, will play from 7 to 9 p.m. Rusty Meytour and his band will continue the zydeco vibes from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.

The Flava Band from Beaumont will present jazz and party music on Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m., followed by Jarvis and the Gents from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., and then Lil Nate with more Cajun zydeco from 10 p.m. to midnight.

On Sunday, the final day, Leon Chavis with his zydeco band will play from 5 to 7 p.m. and Brian Jack with his zydeco band will close the Juneteenth Festival with a concert from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Freddie Champine is president of Krewe de Onyx. Ashley Chalot and Russell Bottley are co-chairs of the festival this year, with John Simien heading the entertainment committee.


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