Pride on display as JC celebrates Juneteenth

Volunteers prepare watermelons for the Juneteenth festival's watermelon eating contest.

Junction City’s annual Juneteenth festival featured plenty of action as locals celebrated the ending of slavery in the U.S., which occurred on June 19, 1865.

Event organizer Jim Sands said Saturday’s festival served as a useful tool to draw awareness to the historical date, on which slavery was abolished throughout the nation’s former Confederate states.

“We want to educate, and teach the valuable lessons that came from this,” Sands said.

The festival featured a car and motorcycle show, vendors, gospel performances, a play, a watermelon eating contest and music. It also featured a talent show for the first time in the event’s history. Sands said it drew a nice turnout, as 12 people participated in it.

“We did a rehearsal Thursday, after we had three nights of auditions,” Sands said.

Mary Snipes also spoke about her mission to draw awareness to improving community safety during the event. Snipes is the mother of Felix Snipes, who died after a shooting at 2306 Wildcat Lane on Aug. 31, 2018.

“How I got involved was when something happened that our family did not think would happen,” Snipes said. “Our son transitioned when someone took his life. I will continue to be his voice, and others who lost their lives due to senseless acts of violence. My intention is to bring awareness to our area of anything that is dealing with an act of senseless violence.”

Snipes encourages people to help others who are in need, who may be suffering from bullying, discrimination, depression or losses due to violent circumstances.

“Here in Junction City, there have been (at least) 54 individuals who lost their lives due to suicide and murder since 2014,” Snipes said. “If you see someone being bullied, someone who doesn’t feel good about themselves, are you going to have a voice? I stand for those individuals who do not have the courage to talk.”

Snipes is working to establish a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America branch in Junction City.

“Moms Demand Action also has a program on how to keep guns safe in your home,” Snipes said. “Moms Demand Action does not discriminate or take away anyone’s right for owning a gun. The main focus is to have a safe community.”

Snipes will host Junction City’s first Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America meeting June 22 at 1:30 p.m. at the 12th Street Community Center.

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