Gammon House to buzz with activity in June

The Gammon House will have several events and activities in June. Bill lackey/Staff

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The Gammon House will have several events and activities in June. Bill lackey/Staff

After two years that saw limited or no activities at the Gammon House — Springfield’s historic Underground Railroad sight — 2022 will see multiple activities tying into the annual Juneteenth celebration.

Now that COVID-19 restrictions have been reduced and Juneteenth was recognized as a federal holiday in 2021, Gammon House board members are reenergized to make the sight and events an anticipated part of summer in Springfield.

“Juneteenth is like our Fourth of July,” said Gammon House board member Patty Daniels. “It’s going to be a weeklong celebration to bring people together.”

Leading off is the second George and Sarah Gammon 5K Run/Walk for Freedom at 8 a.m. on June 11, starting at the Gammon House, 620 Piqua Place. The first event a year ago drew a lot of interested participants, but was wiped out by a storm the morning it was to occur, the same day as Juneteenth.

Organizers postponed it to a later date and this is a chance to start fresh. The registration fee is $18, and includes a t-shirt, and there will be special prizes for the top finishers in several categories.

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A new addition is the first Juneteenth and FatherFest Prayer Breakfast at 9 a.m. June 17 at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 34 W. Pleasant St. Admission is free, and everyone is invited.

The event will have the theme “Together We Rise” and will include a continental breakfast by Panera Bread and a keynote speech by Dr. Julius Bailey, a Wittenberg University professor.

Daniels said the goal was to bring churches together and unite the community. Sponsors, who include Elliott Insurance, the Springfield Foundation and Huntington Bank, have helped make it admission-free.

Gammon House President Dale Henry said having additional sponsors and partners allows Juneteenth to become bigger and offer more opportunities.

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Dale Henry

Dale Henry

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Dale Henry

“The community is beginning to recognize the Gammon House is a major historical venue in our community,” Henry said. “We’re so excited to be able to open to a full complement of events after scaled-back ones.”

Juneteenth and FatherFest activities will begin at 11 a.m. on June 18 with an in-place parade to start things and include several community organization booths, children’s rides, live music, games and food trucks

A new highlight will be a trackless freedom train that adults and kids can ride on. Another is a raffle that include chances to win 60-inch and 43-inch televisions, a state-of-the-art grill, bicycles and a car for kids.

FatherFest will include the Good Dads Awards at 2 p.m. and activities related to it with Eli Williams leading.

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Henry said as the Gammon House is the hub of activity, there will be plenty of history to be learned including a local Black business exhibit with the truck driven by C.L. Truss, a local plumber in the 1960s.

There will also be a Springfield Museum of Art exhibit and tours of the Gammon House, which is one of only three surviving such Underground Railroad sights left in Ohio.

Daniels and Henry want the Gammon House to be in community members’ minds well beyond June, hoping this piece of history isn’t a place local people say they haven’t heard about.

The Gammon House organization is exploring plans to develop Gammon Square, the green area most of the Juneenth activities occur on.

“We want to make the Gammon House a historic project that everybody in the community can be proud of,” Henry said.

To sign up for the 5K run/walk, for sponsorship opportunities or more information on these events, go to www.facebook.com/GammonHouseoh/.

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