It’s been almost 154 years since the abolishment of slavery in the U.S was announced and tomorrow the Yuba-Sutter community will celebrate at the annual Marysville Juneteenth festival.

“This is a celebration of freedom,” said Emma Hirshkorn, the festival coordinator. Her husband, Leonard Johnson re-launched what was once a big Marysville tradition last year. He grew up going to Juneteenth festivals and thought it was important for his children and grandchildren to experience the same.

“I remember the Juneteenth celebrations here at that same park in the ‘70s,” said Freda Venable, a guest speaker and volunteer at the festival. “It was off the hook. Streets were blocked off, all of the churches came together- everybody was here. Juneteenth was a big deal.”

Venable hopes that people will come together and celebrate a great American milestone. She will be speaking on the history of Juneteenth.

“It’s important that we all know our history and the struggles that were gone through in order for us to be here today. It’s important to know why this is a reason to celebrate,” Venable said.

The festival will include inspirational dance and musical performances, games, face-painting, relays for kids, double dutch, and an adult dominoes competition. An emcee and DJ will be on set for the duration of the festival. For food there there will be fried fish, oysters, barbecue ribs, hot links, tacos, burritos, and more. There will also be an opportunity for community members to inquire about being a part of the festival committee to keep the Marysville Juneteenth tradition alive. 

“This is my second time performing. I felt honored when I got the call to come back,” said Randy Dorn, a guest artist at the festival. He will provide a musical performance and a spoken word. “I’ve been going to church here all my life so I’m happy to do anything I can to help the community. It’s a celebration of my people moving forward. I’m excited to see it grow from last year.” he said. 

Some 100 people celebrated at the park last year and Hirshkorn and her team hope to double attendance this year. She said it’s important for the community, especially the younger generations, to experience the exchange of culture that happens at the festival.

“A lot of people don’t even know what Juneteenth is,” said Rachanee Jackson, a community activist, volunteer and guest speaker at the festival. “Given it’s significance, it should get as much recognition as Cinco de Mayo or the Fourth of July. I’m excited to be a part of keeping the celebration alive in the Yuba-Sutter area.”

For more information on Marysville Juneteenth e-mail

Recommended for you