A uniquely Russellville tradition will take place once again this weekend as the 30th annual Emancipation Celebration gets into full swing.
The festival, better known as the “Eighth of August,” will get started on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. at the Bank Street AME Zion Church on East 5th Street where Rev. Steve Walker is pastor. All other events will continue through Sunday, August 7 at Hampton Park.
Pastor Perryn Dillard and Cedar Grove Baptist Church of Olmstead will hos the opening ceremony with pastor Dillard serving as Master of Ceremonies. The Emancipation message will be given by Pastor Terreance Minor of First Baptist Church in Greenville. Also on the program for the opening ceremony are other ministers and community leaders. Again this year an invitation is extended to any church to join in the occasion with literature, food, school supply give aways or other materials, while welcoming friends and guests.
This year’s theme is “I Am The Greatest” and will honor boxing legend Muhammed Ali. Festival T-shirts will be printed in purple to honor the memory of musical artist “Prince” Rogers Nelson, who also passed away this year.
Friday activities include the Taste of Culture grilling and bake sale at Kathy’s Hair Salon on 9th Street. There will also be grilling and vendors at the KP Hall on East 5th Street.
Russellville Blues will present a free concert on Friday featuring Southern Avenue, a finalist in this year’s International Blues Competition. They will perform on August 5th as part of the annual 8th of August Emancipation Celebration Weekend. The band combines masterful musicianship and powerhouse vocals and will present a high energy show. Considered by many to be the future of the blues, they feel that their sound represents the ideal of coming together in music, spirit and the love of life.
The concerts will be held on the grounds of the African American Heritage Museums at the corner of 6th and Morgan Streets in Russellville, and admission will be free to the museums during the weekends.
Plenty of food and beverages will be available during the events, and guests to the concerts are encouraged to bring a lawn chair for the shows that will begin around 7:30 pm.
Saturday activities will begin with the Opening and Flag Ceremony conducted by the American Legion Post 269 at 10 a.m. in Hampton Park. At that time, the third annual Emancipation Parade will begin lining up to start shortly thereafter at 10:30 a.m. in the area of First Baptist Church on South Spring Street.
The public is invited to come out and enjoy all the other activities of the day, including men’s softball, men’s dustbowl basketball, children’s inflatables, music, concessions and vendors all at Hampton Park.
To contact OJ Stapleton, call 270-726-8394 or email [email protected]