University Community

OHIO Southern to host annual Culture and Heritage Festival

Ohio University Southern is gearing up to host its annual Culture and Heritage Festival, serving as a prelude to the Juneteenth holiday, with a lineup of events aiming to celebrate the diverse history and cultures of the Appalachian region.

Scheduled for Saturday, June 15, the festival will provide a day filled with entertainment, education, and community engagement. The event holds significance in bringing together the community to commemorate the history and cultural tapestry of the region, said Robert Pleasant, director of student services at Ohio University Southern.

"The OHIO Southern Culture and Heritage Festival is a leading event to the Juneteenth holiday and is a way to bring the community together to celebrate the history and cultures that make up this Appalachian region," he said.

The festival, which is free and open to the public thanks to the Appalachian Freedom Heritage Tourism Initiative, invites attendees of all ages to partake in a wide array of activities. From live music performances by local artists such as Holly Forbes, Lady D, and 4YLP (formerly Honey Dipped), to captivating showcases by the Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Theater, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

"This family-friendly event is free and open to the public, welcoming all to explore the creative offerings from local history displays, live music, Kids Zone, arts and crafts, health and wellness, food trucks, and the many other vendors selling goods," Pleasant said.

Moreover, the festival serves as a platform for reflection on the region's historical journey. It aims to foster a sense of belonging and community among attendees, encouraging connections, shared experiences, and relationship-building.

"The festival not only provides entertainment but also offers a chance for reflection, highlighting our region's history marked by moments of freedom and triumph. It provides a space for people to connect, share experiences, and build relationships, and foster a sense of belonging and community," Pleasant added.

In addition to the festivities, interested vendors and organization representatives have the opportunity to host information booths at the event. With limited space available for food trucks, those interested are encouraged to complete a registration form and secure their spot by contacting Dr. Teresa McKenzie before May 31.

As Ohio University Southern prepares to welcome visitors from across the region, the Culture and Heritage Festival stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of cultures and histories that define the Appalachian community.

Juneteenth, observed annually on June 19, holds historical significance as the country’s second Independence Day, yet remains relatively obscure to many Americans. In June 2021, the Ohio University Board of Trustees approved a resolution to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday at Ohio University. Since then, the university has hosted programming and activities that celebrate the holiday and educates the community on the importance behind the day.

The Culture and Heritage Festival, made possible by a POWER Grant received from the Appalachian Regional Commission in collaboration with the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation and numerous partners across nine counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, stands as a testament to the region’s commitment to preserving its rich heritage and fostering inclusivity.

May 10, 2024
Staff reports