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Freedom celebrated

With county fairs taking place throughout the region, there really shouldn't be a shortage of entertainment options for the family.

While each of them offers their own twist and most certainly are worthy of your attendance, there is one community event taking place this weekend that will present a slightly different form of entertainment. It is the Nicodemus Emancipation Celebration up in Graham County.

Nicodemus is a unique community. Today, it is the only remaining all-black settlement west of the Mississippi River. The town is small, but knows how to put on a big-time festival.

The Emancipation Celebration has been feted since a group of freed slaves reached the freedom of Kansas 136 years ago. This year, residents of the town are re-enacting that long trek from Kentucky so long ago. The re-enactment actually started almost a year ago in Sadieville, Ky. Saturday, the group will arrive in their "promised land."

The party will be worth attending. It begins Thursday with a meet-and-greet, ramps up Friday with a reception and dance, and continues through the weekend. Saturday's events include an Abraham Lincoln look-alike reading the Emancipation Proclamation, a parade, a vintage baseball game between the Nicodemus Blues II and Russell's Prairie Clippers, the re-opening of Ernestine's BBQ, a jazz concert, dance, fireworks and, of course, the concluding act of the re-enactment. Sunday will conclude with a church service and community dinner.

If you've taken part in previous festivals in Nicodemus, you know it's worth the drive. If you've never attended, this should be the year. It promises to be memorable, solemn and fun at the same time.

For more information about the Nicodemus Emancipation Celebration, visit www.nicodemuskansas.org.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net