Juneteenth discussion

Staff photo by Albert Villegas

Wharton City Councilman Clifford Jackson led a group meeting that centered on the topic of a Juneteenth Festival continuing to be held in Wharton despite the news that James Simmons, Jr. would not be funding the event in 2020.  About 12 people gathered at Church of Christ in Wharton on Saturday Feb. 7 to discuss details.

A group of Wharton citizens and officials are exploirng ways that a festival to recognize Juneteenth continues to be held in their city.

The event is the Juneteenth Festival, which for a combined decade, has been put on and paid by James Simmons, Jr.

Those who gathered at Wharton’s Church of Christ on Saturday, Feb. 7, have been told that Simmons may not be associated with the event this year.

This is the reason that a group of about a dozen people spoke on the matter. They would like to continue to see if held here.

The venture is foreign to the group, which still doesn’t have an official name.

In fact, the name of the festival still doesn’t have a name but all indications are that it will be held in conjunction with Juneteenth.

Tentatively, a Saturday, June 13 date has been discussed. At this time, there has not been a time set as the group talked music, food booths, cost, among other topics.

Leading the group is Wharton City Councilman Clifford Jackson. Among those in the audience were leaders from the chamber, as well as organizations whose focus is to raise scholarships for Wharton High School seniors, who are mostly of African-American descent.

Jackson made his stance known that he wanted to continue to have this event held here during a townhall meeting he set up last month at Just Do It Now.

Those in attendance heard Jackson say the Juneteenth Festival would continue to be held here in some capacity, although it may not be at the same scope that people have been used to in the past.

Last year was the first time that the festival was held since Hurricane Harvey wiped out any thought of having it in 2018. Harvey flooded many parts of Wharton in August 2017.

Even though Simmons told thousands of people during last year’s event that it would be held here again, his stance has changed.

Now, this group, which doesn’t have an official name either, will be meeting twice a month to organize for a major event that attracts thousands each year.

The festival will be held in four months.

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