Celebrating Juneteenth Saturday

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Orange drum circle perform at last year’s Juneteenth program at James Madison’s Montpelier. The event, scheduled Saturday, June 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Montpelier, is co-sponsored by the Orange County African-American Historical Society. 

The Orange County African-American Historical Society will partner with James Madison’s Montpelier to present the 12th local Juneteenth celebration Saturday, June 15.

Juneteenth is a celebration of art, history, music, food, faith and family. Holding the family-fun event at Montpelier provides a historical and educational backdrop and dovetails with the property’s commitment to telling a more complete story of American history and its ongoing archaeological and genealogical efforts.

“Juneteenth” marks the day the last enslaved people in the nation learned of their freedom. On June 19, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston, Tex. with news of emancipation—two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

The celebration will begin at 10 a.m. with a traditional African libation ceremony at the slave cemetery followed by a drum procession to the main tent. The ceremony will allow Montpelier’s African-American descendants’ community to honor their ancestors.

Entertainment in the main tent will include performances from: Odyssey of Soul with Horace Scruggs, Adwela and the Uprising, the men’s group of Shady Grove Baptist Church, Dena Jennings and the Boys & Girls Club of Orange African Drum Circle.

The event also will feature local vendors, artists, storytellers, living history reenactors, hands-on history and colonial games.

Living history re-enactors and activities include: Women of the Civil War, Taryn Weaver portraying Harriet Tubman, the 23rd and 54th regiments of the United States Colored Troops, open-hearth cooking with Leni Sorenson and a Negro League baseball reunion, among others.

Visitors also can view the “Brief History of Black Horsemen in Racing” exhibit inside the grand salon in the visitors center. The exhibit chronicles the contributions of African-American men to the history of horse racing with a special emphasis on the local citizens who worked for Marion DuPont Scott at Montpelier.

The grounds of Montpelier will offer numerous activities for visitors to enjoy in fun and fellowship, he added.

Montpelier will offer tours of the house and the nationally acclaimed “The Mere Distinction of Colour” exhibit at a special rate of $11 per person.

Other activities include enslaved community tours at 1 and 3 p.m., which explores the paradox of a nation where “all men are created equal,” built by those who were denied the exact freedoms they were laboring to establish; and archaeology tours at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., where participants can meet with archaeologists and learn about the artifacts they’re finding on an active dig site.

Tours begin at the visitors center.

A buffet-style lunch, offered by the Exchange Cafe, will feature a menu inspired by Orange County’s Edna Lewis, including chicken fricassee, buttermilk fried catfish, hushpuppies, cole slaw, cornbread, grilled corn salad, peanut butter pie and more. Visitors also are encouraged to bring their own picnic lunch.

The free event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Montpelier. For more information on the event, visit www.montpelier.org.

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