It’s almost time for Russellville’s 28th annual Emancipation Celebration begins on Thursday and this weekend the festival, which is better known as the “Eighth of August” will feature a parade for the first time.
The parade is scheduled for Saturday morning at 10 a.m. and will proceed down East 5th Street.
“We’ve been talking about it for a while,” said parade organizer Rochelle Sydnor. “And this year we just decided to go ahead and do it.”
The grand marshal of the inaugural “Eighth of August Parade” will be Dr. Veronica Duncan, who is coming up from Florida. Former professional basketball players Otis Key and Bubba Wells will also be a part of the parade.
“We’ve had a really good response so far - especially since it’s our first one,” Sydnor said. “Everything has been really falling into place.”
Right now there is a forecast of rain for Saturday and the time of the parade may be altered based on the weather.
“We’re waiting until it gets closer to see what it’s going to do,” Sydnor said. “Once we’re able to see the hourly forecast, we might move it up or back a little.”
This year’s theme for the Emancipation Celebration is “Reflections on a History of Achievements.”
The opening service will be Thursday, Aug. 7 and the celebration will continue through Sunday at Hampton Park.
The Thursday opening service will be a gospel ceremony at 6 p.m. in the area of the Wes Kentucky African-American Heritage Museum next to Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Rev. Marius Beard, associate pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church in Guthrie, will serve as the Master of Ceremony for the service as the Emancipation message will be brought by Rev. Perryn Dillard, pastor of Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Olmstead.
Rev. Dillard and his wife Angela are natives of Hopkinsville and they are the proud parents of six sons. They have resided in Russellville for eight years. Rev. Dillard is an outreach minister, motivational speaker, amplified teacher and preacher of God’s word. He has overcome struggles early in life and has been a minister for 17 and a half years. He is also employed as the MRO Coordinator for Sensus. He was selected as the pastor of Cedar Grove this year.
Musical selections will be brought by Cedar Grove Choir and special guests Sister Mary Davie and Minister Monique Torain. Others on the program will be Rev. Reggie Collier, Pastor Reginald Elliott, Pastor Tony Woodson and Minister Wanda Dillard. All churches are invited again this year to join in the occasion and set up tents and distribute information, school supplies, food and other products while welcoming friends and guests.
Saturday’s Opening and Flag Ceremony will be conducted by the American Legion Post 269 beginning at 10 a.m. in Hampton Park. Other events will include the golf scramble at Hickory Hill; and the Hampton Park men’s softball and Dustbowl basketball, concessions, vendors and children’s activities.
To enter the tournaments, contact Larry Hampton (270-726-3921) for golf, Tony Nichols (270-772-4973) for softball, Andrae Woodard (270-392-8368) for basketball and Kathy Edmonds (270-725-8686) for concessions.