Meridian hosts Juneteenth Heritage Festival

By By Erin Hilsabeck / staff writer
June 17, 2004
With a history going back to 1865, the Juneteenth Heritage Festival is the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery.
Local officials met Wednesday to publicize a two-day Juneteenth festival this weekend in downtown Meridian.
Everything from hip-hop groups to hot wings vendors will line the streets in Meridian's African American historic commercial district.
The free festival, expected to draw more than 5,000 people, begins Friday at 7 p.m. Manifest Mo, Prodigal Son and Walter Mack will perform hip-hop music.
Saturday's activities begin at 11 a.m. and end at 11 p.m. Entertainment includes Los Angeles-based funk group Lakeside, whose song "Fantastic Voyage" was popular in the early 1980s.
Gospel music groups the Divine Messengers and Freedom Rock will perform from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.
Information booths will educate the public on health concerns like diabetes and high blood pressure, said Sharon Smith, manager of Main Street, Meridian's downtown association.
Part of the idea behind the Juneteenth Heritage Festival is to revitalize the downtown district, which runs along Fifth Street from 23rd to 26th avenues.
But Smith said she does not want only African American businesses in the area she welcomed businesses of all types.

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