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Fred U. Harris Masonic Lodge #70 PHA and City Partners Welcome Entire Community to Juneteenth Celebration in Lacey Featuring Free Barbecue, Entertainment and Haircuts – ThurstonTalk

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It’s almost time to join your community to celebrate Juneteenth, a historic day recognizing freedom from enslavement. The Fred U. Harris Masonic Lodge #70 PHA, a group of Prince Hall Free Masons, invites the community to its popular 43rd annual Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 15, 2024, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.

Supported by the cities of Lacey and Tumwater, this year’s free event features a barbecue lunch, live entertainment, haircuts, a short program, community booths, and lots of time to mingle and relax.

 “This is a celebration for everyone, that everyone can experience freedom in America,” says Lester Dickson, a past Masonic Grand Master and Juneteenth Committee chair. “It represents freedom for all people.”

It’s not just free food and free haircuts featured at the June 15, 2024 celebration in Lacey, it’s also free live entertainment. Bring your blankets and folding chairs to the Juneteenth festivities. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey

Celebrating Juneteenth in Lacey, the State and Nation

Fred U. Harris Masonic Lodge #70 PHA has been a fixture in the Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater areas since 1981. Dickson says the lodge has a proud history of civic engagement and charitable giving. Since 1982, the lodge has celebrated Juneteenth locally with free food and lots of fun.

Juneteenth, also known as “Freedom Day,” represents a time when enslaved people in the slave-holding states were officially notified of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln more than a year prior, granting freedom from enslavement. The exact date when the enslaved people became aware has not been officially documented but is believed to be somewhere between the 13th and 19th day in June 1865. When notified, the enslaved inhabitants broke out in celebration and those celebrations continue annually to today. First commemorated in Texas, Juneteenth is now officially recognized as a federal and Washington State holiday. You can find more history here.

The local lodge’s annual Juneteenth Celebration is a big hit, with an estimated 1,600+ people attending the 2023 Lacey event. “I love it,” says committee member and lodge Senior Warden Melvin Butler. “I see people eating, having fun, being happy, and the long lines, and I say, ‘Wow, we did good.’”

Fred U. Harris Masonic Lodge #70 PHA team standing behind a large grill
The Juneteenth celebration in Lacey hosted by the Fred U. Harris Masonic Lodge #70 PHA and its Grill Team provide free ribs and other terrific barbecue food. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey

All Ages are Invited to Connect With Their Community at the Free Event

The Juneteenth Celebration is for community members of all ages and there is no admission. Attendees are invited to bring non-perishable items for the Thurston County Food Bank, who will be on-site collecting items and providing resources for the community.

Be sure to bring your blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy the festivities, including:

  • Free Barbecue. Bring your appetite because the free barbecue lunch “Is not a snack, it’s a meal,” says Butler. You’ll enjoy ribs, collard greens, hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, potato salad, macaroni salad, cookies, cake and non-alcoholic beverages. Rainbow Girls and Demolay, Masonic youth organizations, will serve the food.
  • Live Entertainment. Andy Stokes, the “Northwest King of Soul Music” and two-time inductee to Oregon’s Music Hall of Fame, will provide free, live music. Dickson says Stokes entertained at last year’s celebration and told organizers he wanted to be sure to be booked for the 2024 event as well.
  • Youth Activities. The event also offers fun yard games and activities to entertain youth attendees, plus an expansive playground next to the festivities.
  • Haircuts.  Olympia Barber School staff and students will give free haircuts at the event. Butler says lots of people line up for their turn.
  • Program. The day includes a short program with brief comments from Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder,  Tumwater Mayor Debbie Sullivan, and representatives from the Fred U. Harris Lodge, among others.
  • Community Booths. Community groups and other agencies will staff booths to share information about their services and engage with the community.
people on a large lawn sitting on blankets and chairs. Pop-up tents in the distance
The Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey is the location for the annual Juneteenth celebration sponsored by the Fred U. Harris Masonic Lodge #70 PHA, with partners City of Lacey and City of Tumwater. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey

Support Community and Fred U. Harris Masonic Lodge #70 PHA at the Lacey Juneteenth Event

Dickson says all Masonic lodges have a community service component. He says the Fred U. Harris Masonic Lodge #70 PHA’s Juneteenth Celebration started as a small, local event more than four decades ago. Several lodge members, originally from Texas, thought it would be good to recognize Juneteenth locally by providing free food to the community.

Over the years, the event has blossomed. The lodge has moved the celebration from small area parks to bigger parks, and then to the expansive Regional Athletic Complex. While the lodge funded the entire cost for many years, this is the third year Lacey and Tumwater have supported their efforts and joined in the celebration.

Mark your calendar and plan to gather with the community at this popular, free Juneteenth event hosted by the Fred U. Harris Masonic Lodge #70 PHA. See Juneteenth event parking information on the Lacey Parks website.

Juneteenth Celebration
June 15, 2024
11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Regional Athletic Complex
8345 Steilacoom Rd SE, Lacey

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