The Cobb NAACP’s three-day weekend of culture and music commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. will kick off Friday.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery, dating back to June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were free, according to a news release from the Cobb County NAACP.

The celebration of June 19 was coined “Juneteenth” and grew into a national event with more participation from descendants.

The three days of festivities, organized in partnership with the city of Marietta, begin at 6 p.m. Friday with “Evening Under the Stars,” featuring Jonathan “John Boy” Wright and his 13-piece brass band Surround Sound.

On Saturday, the Juneteenth Cultural Festival will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a health fair with a variety of wellness tests and screenings, as well as various entertainment, children’s activities and more than 100 vendors.

A “Gospel Fest” from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday will close out the weekend of events, with the sounds of award-winning gospel singer Dottie Peoples.

All of the events will be held in Glover Park on Marietta Square.

The 16th annual celebration in Marietta is well known in metro Atlanta, as it was the first organized recognition of the important American holiday in the region, according to Jeriene Bonner-Grimes, president of the Cobb chapter of the NAACP.

Bonner-Grimes said the event is one of unity, and is accessible for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

“I think that we put on a class-act cultural event,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity... Unity is important, and Juneteenth is an opportunity to empower people into supporting each other and celebrating together. It gives us an opportunity to come together as a community for celebration.”

And if anyone is still on the fence about attending the weekend of events, Bonner-Grimes said she has just a few words of encouragement:

“It’s free. Free fun. Of all the things we do in the world, it’s nice to have something that’s free,” she said.

For more information on this weekend’s events, call 770-425-5757 or visit cobbnaacp.org.

Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas