Food front, center at Juneteenth fest

CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle Al Spillmon, left, watches Ollie Hall, center, and Lawrence Coone open a jar of barbecue sauce Saturday at the Juneteenth Festival at Potter Park.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Grills lined the Potter Memorial Park parking lot Saturday, filling the air with the smell of barbecued meats in preparation for the Juneteenth festivities.

Barbecued chicken, spare ribs and brisket and deep-fried catfish were among the many menu items people lined up for, plates in hand.

“Everything’s going great,” said William Hall, who has organized the event every year for 12 years. “There’s lots of food. Everybody’s getting plenty.”

Cars and trucks, waxed and detailed, gleamed in the sun as their owners vied for bragging rights at the car show on the parking lot by the Beachum baseball field.

But mostly people came to the event to enjoy celebrating with their community.

“Everything was great. People were enjoying themselves and meeting each other,” said Gloria Spillmon, 60, of Clovis.

Hall went around the park selling $5 raffle tickets. Money from the raffle will go to the next Juneteenth celebration, Hall said.

Phil Teakell, 55, a retired public health worker, won the raffle’s prize of a GMC truck at the drawing at the end of the day.

According to the Juneteenth Web site, Juneteenth is named for June 19, 1865, when the last slaves were freed in Galveston, Texas, by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

With the success of this year’s celebration, Hall said he looks forward to next year’s celebration.