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August Ball Fundraiser commemorates Emancipation Day this weekend

The August Ball was originally celebrated in 1887 in La Crosse. This year’s event celebrates history and traditions.

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FILE - The La Crosse Juneteenth Court, presented to the community at the Juneteenth celebration earlier this summer.

This Saturday is the August Ball, commemorating Aug. 1, 1887.

Emancipation Day celebrates the liberation of enslaved people — first in the Caribbean and then, eventually, the end of slavery in the U.S. The August Ball was also celebrated in 1887 by the La Crosse Community. This year, it makes its return.

The event is a joint presentation from local nonprofits: Black Leaders Acquiring Collective KnowledgeHope ReStoresEnduring Families Project and Black Student Leaders.

“(It’s) another opportunity for us to make history as a community here in La Crosse,” Hope Restores Co-Founder, Shy Jackson, told Z93.

The August Ball is based on a concept of Cotillion and Beautillion coming together in a blend.

Both are separate social dances. The Cotillion is focused on young women. The Beautillion is focused on men.

“The purpose of this centuries-old tradition is really to showcase the excellence of youth and to welcome them into gentle society,” Jackson explained.

It’s the process that’s really great for them because they get the opportunity to rub elbows with different people outside of their social circles. They go over etiquette lessons, how to carry on a conversation in a professional setting and other skills.

“The top of the cake for me is definitely the dances and things that they learned,” Jackson added. “They have put together a really special evening.”

The La Crosse Juneteenth Court was presented to the community at the Juneteenth celebration earlier this summer and the upcoming ball will mark their official presentation to society.

The court is designed to bring youth aged 16-18 that identify as Black, biracial and multiracial — with Black being one of their identities — together to learn about their culture, history and build community.

This is also a time to celebrate our youth crossing over into adulthood.

The event is at UW-La Crosse’s Bluffs Ballroom, inside the Student Union, on Saturday. Doors open at 5:30 pm and the event starts at 6 p.m.

This is a formal event that includes dinner and dancing.

Tickets are $35 for adults, $25 for youth and can be purchased online HERE.

Jackson said the proceeds of the event will support future August Ball events as well as the community’s annual Juneteenth Celebration.

Tracy has worked at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 2004. She is half of the Z93 Morning Buzz with Brittany and Ballzer and coordinates Z93's charity, Zcare. She writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse and announces for the Mississippi Valley Mayhem Roller Derby team.

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