GALLIPOLIS — The 150th Annual Emancipation Celebration, the longest continually held celebration in the country, will kick off Friday, September 20, 2013, with a Homecoming Reception and Concert at the historic Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre located at 426 Second Avenue in downtown Gallipolis, Ohio.
The Emancipation Proclamation has been observed in Gallia County, Ohio, since 1863. It was originally a religious observance coinciding with President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation declaring slaves “thenceforth are forever more free.”
A reception will begin Friday in the Ariel Banquet Hall at 6 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. concert headlined by Gallipolis gospel group, “Ordinary People,” under the leadership of Christian Scott. Featured soloists are Crystal Wagner of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Philip Armstrong of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Following the concert, attendees are invited to participate in a Candlelight Walk to the Ohio River. The river figured prominently in the Underground Railroad since it borders the slave-owning states of Kentucky and Virginia (prior to West Virginia statehood), and it became crucial to the network of sites, routes and events that became the Underground Railroad.
“Everyone is welcome for this weekend of commemoration, celebration and consecration,” said Lora Lynn Snow, executive director of the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre. “The Ariel-Dater Hall is very proud to host the first evening of this historic celebration.”
On Saturday, festivities will move to Bob Evans Farms, located at 1054 Ohio 588 in Rio Grande, Ohio. Saturday’s lineup includes Civil War musician Steve Ball, a reunion of the gospel choir, “Youth United For Christ,” The Saints Drumline and Sabrina Tutstone. Vocalists Philip Armstrong and Crystal Wagner will perform on both Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday services begin with gospel music and an inspirational sermon by Reverend Otha Gilyard, President of the Ohio Baptist General Convention. “Join Us” of Columbus, Ohio, will provide musical entertainment Sunday afternoon.
Sunday’s keynote speaker will be Yvette McGee Brown, the first African-American female Justice on the Ohio Supreme Court.
The United States Colored Troops (USCT) 5th Regiment re-enactors will be encamped on the Bob Evans grounds, and Civil War re-enactors personifying Abraham Lincoln (Fritz Klein), Frederick Douglass (Michael Crutcher) and Harriet Tubman (Ilene Evans) will make presentations on stage and in the re-enactor tent.
A complete schedule is available online at www.emancipation-day.com.