Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Owen Sound Emancipation Festival

August 4, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - August 6, 2023 @ 7:00 pm


Speaker’s Corner (Grey Roots Museum & Archives, 102599 Grey Road 18, RR4)

  • Emancipation Festival – Speaker’s Corner (map)

Welcome: Bruce Johnson, Vice Chair, Emancipation Festival

Opening remarks: Ovid Jackson, former Member of Parliament and Mayor of Owen Sound

Guest speakers (individual presentations, roundtable and Q&A)

Joan John, Councillor, Township of Southgate

Dr. Deepikaa Gupta, Local Immigration Partnership Manager, Grey Bruce Local Immigration Partnership

Tony Miller, Artist & Storyteller

Rob Green, Artist & Storyteller

Discussion moderator: Cyrus Sundar Singh

Entertainment:  Bobby Dean Blackburn

$25 (purchase in advance) . Appetizers and refreshments will be provided. Space is limited.

Speaker’s Corner is the preeminent and beloved forum to engage themes of Black history and liberatory futures as part of the Emancipation Day celebrations. There is artful ancestral remembrance, a sharp view of the present moment, and future-facing changemaking among our guests. Each has a unique approach to what Emancipation means for us today and tomorrow.


Emancipation Festival & Picnic (Harrison Park, 75 2nd Avenue East)


9 a.m. – Coffee, light breakfast and mingle

11 a.m. – Greetings by Crier of the Emancipation Bruce Kruger and Mayor Ian Boddy, Welcome and blessing by Evangelist Valerie Tillman, About the Black History Cairn by Bonita Johnson-deMatteis

Noon – 6 p.m. – Welcome remarks. Entertainment by Josh Ritchie (Rock & Roll), Ruth Mathiang (Traditional & Afrobeat), Chippewa Travellers (Aniishinaabeg family drummers) and Jay Douglas (Reggae & Blues)

Live entertainment, information booths, food vendors, silent auction, races and other activities!

Special thanks to Grey County, St. John Ambulance, Owen Sound Police Community Engagement Unit, Sheffield Black History Museum with Friends of the Negro Creek Settlement and Gael Miller, the Cousins Ancestry Project, and Georgian Bay Arts (customize your own t-shirt!), Coral`s Caribbean Restaurant and Dede`s Authentic African Kitchen, and special guests UGRR9 cyclists from Maryland!

This event is free. Donations are welcome and appreciated.


Call for Vendors

  • EMANCIPATION FESTIVAL (Harrison Park) (map)

We are excited to host the 161st anniversary of the longest continuous Emancipation Day Picnic in North America – dedicated to preserving a legacy to honour Black ancestors and Canada`s rich and diverse history.

What began as a simple picnic to celebrate Emancipation Day, the festival and picnic has continued since 1862 in Owen Sound, known as the most northern terminus of the Underground Railroad. People of all backgrounds who appreciate history, family, culture, and community come from near and far for fellowship, reflection, storytelling and entertainment.

Interested in being a part of this special event in Owen Sound`s beautiful Harrison Park on Saturday, August 5?

  • Send an email to info@emancipation.ca with “Vendor expression of interest“ in the subject line

  • Share brief details about who you are and what you do

  • Include your day/evening phone number, and web and social media links

  • The fee is $125. (food or other sales). There is no charge for informative booths.

  • Food vendors must provide their own liability insurance and proof of insurance

  • Food vendors must follow the City of Owen Sound`s health, safety and food handling guidelines.

Grey Bruce Public Health Homepage (publichealthgreybruce.on.ca)

Food Safety (publichealthgreybruce.on.ca)

Space is limited, so only those vendors with the greatest appeal will be contacted with more details. The deadline is Friday, June 30.

Thank you for your interest!


Get Free – Get Funky After Party

  • Heartwood Hall (map)

On Saturday night, after the festivities in Harrison Park simmer down, move on up to Heartwood Hall – the last stop on the Freedom Train! The groove masters at Higher FunkTion are bringing the heat, your feet will be their beat! Rise up, boogie down, and don’t forget your dancing shoes!

Come out and dance the night away with live performers Higher FunkTion at this fantastic concert hall in the heart of downtown Owen Sound!

All are welcome to join the celebration. Tickets are $20 online. Funds raised through ticket sales will support the Emancipation Festival.


Emancipation Festival – Gospel Sunday (Grey Roots Museum & Archives – outdoor grounds, 102599 Grey Road 18, RR4)


Entertainment by: Diana Braithwaite & Chris Whiteley (blues and gospel) and Bobby Dean Blackburn (rhythm & blues, jazz and gospel)

This event is free. Donations are welcome and appreciated.

PLEASE NOTE: No dogs are allowed at the gospel or on the grounds of the museum with the exception of service dogs. Thank you for your understanding.


The Emancipation Festival is a not-for-profit organization and is grateful for the support from individuals, businesses, community organizations and government.


August 4, 2023 @ 6:00 pm
August 6, 2023 @ 7:00 pm


Harrison Park
Owen Sound, ON Canada + Google Map