Juneteenth expecting even more than usual at 151st celebration
By Kyle Mooty
Juneteenth, a day celebrated at St. John Colony in Caldwell County going on its 151st consecutive year, keeps getting bigger and better, yet, according to President Marshall Hill, some of the events are still “a work in progress.”
Saturday’s celebration at the Juneteenth ground at St. John Colony will include several hundred people throughout the day. Cooking for the event actually begins on Friday, and Hill said the 1,600 pounds of brisket will be turned sometime around 2 a.m. on Saturday. The vendors will begin setting up at about 9 a.m., followed by the start of the Juneteenth program at 10 a.m.
Hill said the event will begin winding down sometime after 4 p.m., but that some will hang around to visit and share stories until 7 p.m. or later.
“Last year, from what everyone has said, was probably the biggest, anywhere from 400 to 500,” Hill said. “I’m working, so I don’t really see how many are out here. I know we have them come from Alaska, California, Arizona… all over. It’s stretched out. Last year, we had people that said they’ve never seen that many here. We have games and stuff for the kids, too, but that’s still a work in progress.”
A workday was held last on June 3 to spruce up the grounds for the June 17 event, which honors June 19, 1865 when federal troops marched into Galveston to spread word that enslaved people must be freed. A few years later, a group of black families from Webberville in eastern Travis County left to form Winn’s Colony in Caldwell County, so named after being led there by Rev, John Henry Winn. The area was renamed to St. John Colony after the founding member of St. John Missionary Baptist Church.
Several descendants from the original St. John Colony families are on hand to celebrate Juneteenth.
“We always celebrate on the third Saturday of June every year,” Hill said. “This will be the 151st annual event. They have gotten together all 151 years, even during the brunt of Covid in 2020. We just scaled back a lot that year.
“The museum will be open at the old schoolhouse for people to enjoy photographs and such from the past. There will be a Deejay on hand. There will be a moon walk, or bouncy house, for the kids. The cooks will be here all night. We had 17 vendors last year and only four the previous year. They don’t have food, just stuff like kitchenware, perfume, jewelry, and stuff.”
Hill estimates between 12 and 14 people will play a role in cooking the brisket, and that doesn’t include the people who will arrive Saturday morning to help cut up the meat.
“Last year we had six cases of chicken and ran out, so we’ll have 10 cases this year,” Hill added. “The briskets alone probably cost around $6,000.”
The keynote speaker for this year’s program will be Roland C. Haynes, a Professor of History at Austin Community College. Among his honors include receiving the Austin NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award at last December’s DeWitty/Overton Freedom Fund Banquet. He serves at the African-American Cultural Center director and history professor and he shares his inspiration in helping and teaching others, especially students who have a desire to learn about African American history and study beyond their college curriculum.
Special remarks at the Juneteenth celebration at St. John Colony will be made by Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden, Lockhart Mayor Lew White, and Caldwell County Commissioner Dyral Thomas.
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2023 JUNETEENTH ANNUAL PROGRAM
Mistress of Ceremony
Loretta Walker Hawkins
Award During 52nd Annual Cowboys Precession/Ringing Bell/Flag Post
President Marshall Hill, and Vice President Doray Hill.
Minister Henry Hill, President of St. John 19th Body
Black National Anthem
Raquelle Cyphers and Darielle Cyphers
Recognition of Distinguished Guests
Lockhart Mayor Lew White
Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden
Introduction of Keynote Speaker
Loretta Walker Hawkins
Roland C. Haynes, Historian
Special Presentations and Recognition to:
Edna Lucille Franks-Roland, by Rosie L. Darby
Curtis Melvin McVade Sr., by Rosie L. Darby
Retired County Commissioner Joe Roland, by County Commissioner Dyral Thomas
Don Ellerby and Freddie Roland
Caldwell County Commissioner Dyral Thomas
Update of Preservation of St. John Colony and fall Conference
Rosie L. Darby
Vice President Doray Hill
Closing Prayer/Food Blessed
Pastor Laura Loretta Hardaway
Lunch Served and Family Activities