NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The nation is celebrating Juneteenth, the anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, and in New Orleans, hundreds gathered at the historic Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park for the 3rd Annual NOLA Juneteenth Festival.

The event was made possible by Shaddai Livingston, Director of New Orleans Juneteenth Festival Inc., and the Louisana Afro-Indigenous Society. Funding was provided by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation.

“This year, we kicked off the festival with a second line, featuring Hot 8 Brass Band and The Baby Dolls,” said Director Livingston. “We were thrilled to receive inquiries from these groups and include them in our lineup.”

Held in Congo Square, the festival featured more than 40 vendors, including unique local and national artists.

Once in the park, there was dancing, drums, and historic demonstrations.

Juneteenth Fest 2022 Flyer

“So today, we’re gathering in the sacred place of Congo Square to pay tribute to our ancestors, our family, and to one another on such a special occasion,” said Anita Oubre, also known as Mahogany Magnolia Rose, the founder of Mahogany Blue Baby Dolls.

The Baby Dolls are recognizing that Juneteenth is now receiving more recognition than in previous years.

“Look at where we are now,” said Baby Doll Franny Chanel, the founder of Creole Gem Baby Dolls. “More and more people, perhaps, as diverse groups begin to celebrate Juneteenth, will understand people of color are free.”

Some who attended the festival traveled across state lines to celebrate Juneteenth in New Orleans.

“We came down here because we wanted to experience the Juneteenth,” said Natasha Sanford, who traveled from Kentucky with her family to attend the festival. “We don’t really do it too much in Kentucky. It’s just something that’s getting more national attention, so we’re here for that.”

Attendees say the celebration makes them feel heard and proud of their ancestry.

“Everybody has different cultures, and to have it widespread to African culture, it’s really good to have because we don’t really see that a lot, we don’t learn about it in school, so it’s really good to see it.” said Sanford.

For information on Juneteenth festivities that are happening on Monday, click here.

The Louisiana Afro-Indigenous Society is a New Orleans-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to “promote education and cooperative economics through unification within the African American/Afro-Indigenous American community by empowering community development and providing opportunities for artists and professionals. ”