Aug. 2—ACWORTH — Residents and city officials came together on Sunday to celebrate the city's inaugural Juneteenth festival at Logan Farm Park.
The city's 2021 Juneteenth festival, "The Concert on the Green: A Juneteenth Celebration," was originally to be held on June 19, the actual holiday each year, but inclement weather prevented it. The Juneteenth holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood said Sunday begins what will be an annual event in the city.
"This is our very first opportunity to celebrate Juneteenth, and as of today, it becomes a tradition," Allegood said, adding that the city had planned a Juneteenth event in 2020, but COVID-19 had put a stop to it.
At 3 p.m. Sunday, when the event kicked off, attendance was scarce, but as the time approached 5 p.m., when Total Package Band was to begin playing, crowds gathered, tents went up and chairs unfolded as people claimed their spots on the park lawn in front of the stage.
Attendees grabbed their funnel cakes, fried Oreos, barbecue and King of Pops and settled down in sunhats and under shaded chairs, away from the heat. The children kicked around soccer balls, played catch or blew bubbles, while the parents chatted.
Allegood said it's fitting that just across the street from where the Juneteenth event is held is Doyal Hill Park, named after Doyal Hill, the city's first African American councilman. The park includes panels that tell the African American history of the city and "recognize the importance of African American contributions in our community."
Nearby, Kamaria Jones and Karen Anthony, 5-year residents of the city, sat listening to the saxophones and funk guitar. Six-year-old Brooklyn Chester chased the bubbles Anthony blew.
Jones said she was happy, after years of celebrating Juneteenth with cookouts and friends at home, that she could now, and from now on, attend a city-sanctioned event.
"I'm glad that they recognize that it's an event that needs to be had in Acworth," she said. "When we saw the sign here, we were like, 'Oh, yes.'"
Regardless of the delay from June until August, she said, she and Anthony knew they had to come. They want the event to keep coming back, Jones said, so they'll always come out to support it.
Anthony agreed, noting also that she was happy to see Juneteenth become a federal holiday this year.
"I love Acworth," she said. "And I'm looking forward to a lot more events over the years."
Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.