BURKBURNETT (KFDX/KJTL) — It was June of 1865 when slaves in Texas finally got word that they were free, and celebrations on June 19th, also known as Juneteenth, have been happening ever since.

The annual Burkburnett Juneteenth celebration is continuing to honor the official end of slavery in America, and they want everyone to come out and take part.

“The city is welcoming, even the community, we’ve got people coming all the way from Lawton, Wichita Falls and the entire Texoma region, so we welcome you to Burkburnett,” Pastor Carl English said.

A warm welcome is what Pastor English wants everyone to feel when they come to town for this year’s celebration.

Perhaps you’re wondering what exactly is Juneteenth, and why do we celebrate it?

“It’s a national holiday, and it’s when the slaves got the message in Texas that they were free,” English said. “Even though Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, black folks in Texas did not get the message until about June-ish.”

Since then, celebrations commemorating that milestone in history have been underway.

It was a few years back that Pastor English and other members from the Burk community thought it was time to bring a celebration to Burkburnett for all of Texoma to enjoy and learn some history.

“Folks in Burk have really chimed in on it, and no one is afraid of it, and the goal was to get them to understand this is not just a black thing, this is an everybody thing,” English said. “This is an opportunity to build a bridge to unity, and in order to build the bridge to unity, we have to be unified, we have to come together.”

The two-day celebration will have it all, from bounce houses and face paint to golf tournaments and even mud volleyball.

“If you name it, we’re going to have it, and we want to have everybody to come out,” English said. “It’s free, vendors are going to be there, and vendors that wanna get on board, we welcome you. Whatever it is, we just want to welcome you to Burk, where the motto is You’re home now, and we want you to come on home.”

English hopes everyone will take part in the celebration and celebrate the history and importance of Juneteenth.

The celebration will be happening on June 17th and June 18th in Burkburnett, right at Friendship Park. You can find more details here.