RIO GRANDE — The 154th Emancipation Celebration will be returning to Bob Evans Farm in Rio Grande this Saturday and Sunday, and a program at the Ariel Opera House will be held this evening in memory of passed Emancipation Celebration Board Member Jessie Payne.
A homecoming reception will be held at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the Ariel Opera House followed by a 7 p.m. concert in the main auditorium tonight. Glenn Miller, vice-president of the Emancipation Celebration Committee will serve as master of ceremonies for the event. Andrew Gilmore, committee president, is anticipated to welcome all to the event. Musical performances will be led by James Stokes and Christina Armstrong. A reading will be held by Luella Henry telling the story of Payne’s life. A tribute will then be held to Payne by Holzer Health System Volunteer Service and Holzer Heritage Foundation representative Linda Lester.
Gilmore will make a presentation to the Payne family and another musical performance with Rob Gordon will follow. Remarks will be made by Bob Evans Farm Manager Clark Walker as well as Gilmore. A closing prayer will be led by Rev. Dr. Gene Armstrong.
On Saturday at the Bob Evans Farm, an opening ceremony for the Emancipation Celebration will be held at 10 a.m. Free carriage and pony rides are anticipated to be held along with a barnyard express, birthday chronicles and voter registration. Bossard Library staff will also be on hand.
The raising of the American Flag will be led by Bill Jackson and Civil War Troop reenactors. Musical selections will be played by the River Valley High School Band. The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Gallia Sub-District Youth. Gilmore will welcome comers and Minister Marlin Griffin will lead the event’s invocation. Jeannie Williams will lead the Negro Anthem. Holzer Health Fair announcements will follow along with announcements for the birthday chronicles. At 10:30 a.m., kids fun day begins. Special music will be played by Steve Ball, a Civil War musician.
COSI on Wheels is anticipated to be on the grounds with a program at 1 p.m. and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will hold a program on the main stage at 3 p.m.
At 2 p.m. Miller will recognize and welcome state, local and national dignitaries. Miller will recognize a past president. Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin will address the crowd. Special music will be supplied by Character Karaoke. Michael Crutcher and Gerald Payne will portray Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. A scholarship presentation will be led by Arthur Clark and finally an offering, a puppet show and closing remarks.
On Sunday, a 10 a.m. worship service will be held. Miller will welcome those attending and musical selections will be held by a combined church choir. Reverend Dr. Michael A. Poke, Sr. of St. Albans, is the senior pastor at Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church and he will lead the Sunday sermon.
The 2 p.m. afternoon program will have special remarks by Gilmore, recognition of area dignitaries and the Emancipation Celebration Committee. Area historian Elaine Armstrong will introduce the keynote speaker, Dr. John Mattox, curator of the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing.
Musical selections will be led by the Geiger family and special remarks will be made by University of Rio Grande President Dr. Michelle Johnston. Closing remarks will be made by Gilmore.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.