Danville and Harrodsburg collaborating for Juneteenth events

Danville and Harrodsburg are joining forces to celebrate Juneteenth, which celebrates the emancipation of African American slaves in the U.S., on June 18-19 at Harrodsburg’s West Lane Park.

The event will include several speakers from Danville, including Danville City Commissioner James “J.H.” Atkins, comedian Heather Romero and Danville Police Chief Tony Gray, and the board organizing the event includes Danville residents, including local activists Melinda Weathers and Cheryl Burton.

“The Juneteenth celebration in general is a time to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States,” Weathers said in an email. “It should have special meaning to all people. No one is free until we all are free.”

Sid Dunn, a Harrodsburg resident who is overseeing organization for the events, said this is the first year the two towns are collaborating to celebrate Juneteenth, but it won’t be the last. Next year, Danville will be the host city for the towns’ Juneteenth festivities, and the board has ideas in the works for other future events.

“It’s really fun working with Danville now,” Dunn said. “I’ve never done this before. I’ve been in Harrodsburg my whole life, and I’ve done all kinds of events, but to have Danville and us collaborating together — it’s awesome.”

Dunn said there’s been a great community response, as individuals have contributed money and time, and some young adults are serving on the board.

As for what Dunn hopes the community will take away from the event, due to its historical significance, he hopes it will bring not only the two towns but individuals together.

“We need to start networking together with one another,” he said. “Instead of being separated, we need to start spending more time with each other and learning about one another.”

He also hopes the event will build pride around the community. He said people hear about “big heroes” but not always the figures within their own communities, like Ruby Dunn, namesake of the Ruby Dunn Center senior citizens center in Mercer County, and Willie “Jackrabbit” Bottoms, a world-renowned Black horse rider from Harrodsburg who will be featured in a speech at the Juneteenth celebration. Dunn also said people like Atkins are great role models within the Danville-Harrodsburg areas.

“We have all kinds of role models within our own community, that it’s just great that we start focusing on that,” he said.

Events scheduled

Some activities taking place during the Heart of KY Juneteenth Celebration are:

• A Juneteenth Memorial Walk and Vigil to commemorate loved ones who have died. Preorder a candle and spot for the memorial at juneteenthky.com/juneteenth

• A cornhole tournament. This is open to anyone for $10 per team. There is a cash prize for the winning team. Teams need to sign up before 1 p.m. on June 19, and the tournament is at  2 p.m. Payment can be in advance or at the event. Sign up at juneteenthky.com/events

• City vs. city softball game between Danville and Harrodsburg. Registration must take place by June 16. Contact organizers to register.

• Activities for kids, including arts and crafts and face painting, that will be free.

• Food vendors, live music, fireworks and guest speakers.

• A movie showing on June 18.

To donate and support

• Purchase a T-shirt for $10 at juneteenthky.com/t-shirt.

• Become a sponsor at juneteenthky.com/sponsor. Because T-shirts have already been ordered, it’s too late to get any more sponsor names on the back of the T-shirts, but sponsors who sign up now will still be mentioned.

• Donations can be made at the Heart of KY Juneteenth Celebration website, juneteenthky.com.

• Sign up as a volunteer, juneteenthky.com/volunteer.