(Published in print edition June 28, 2023)
Those involved with the Juneteenth celebration in Central Park say one of the priorities of the festival is to provide a sense of togetherness.
“It helps to bring everyone together,” said Cadence Woolfork, a recent Henderson County High School graduate who will attend the University of Kentucky in the fall. “It’s not just something for Black people. It’s something everyone can celebrate.”
Woolfork and another HCHS graduate, Jordan Wright, hosted the June 19 event.
The festival featured a stage for bands and giveaways, food trucks, merchants, entertainment and information booths, local artists and a historical piece highlighting Black residents who’ve made a difference in the community.
A founder of the local celebration, Courtney Ferguson, said the second rendition shows growth over last year.
“I’m hoping that we continue to grow,” she said, adding she’d like to see it reach the size of the Independence Day event the city of Henderson puts on.
Ferguson said the celebration’s start came from work she and three others did in the 2021 Henderson Leadership Institute. The other three include Mi’Oshi Holloway, Ryan Nunn and Timothy Miller. Two others, Dr. Michelle Chappell and the Rev. Charles Johnson, have joined since, forming the celebration’s committee.
Ferguson said the celebration’s goals are to educate, inspire and empower. The committee paid special attention to empowering youth this year, she said, referring to poster-size photos displayed in the Central Park gazebo highlighting Black residents past and present who’ve made big contributions to the community.
She said they want to emphasize to young people that the people in the gazebo are “from right here where you’re from and these are things you can do.”
Some of the trailblazers included in the collection are Thelma B. Johnson; Rev. Dr. Anthony M. Brooks, Sr.; Rev. Dr. Adrian Brooks, Sr. and numerous others.
Wright, who will attend Georgetown College in the fall, said the celebration provides togetherness.
“It keeps our community whole,” he said.
Ferguson said she was happy to see a people with a variety of racial backgrounds at the celebration.
“It’s not a Black celebration,” she said. “It’s a celebration of blackness.”