top of page

Upson Emancipation

Celebrating History. Celebrating Traditions. Celebrating Freedom.

Thomaston is famous for the Emancipation Celebration held on or around May 29 each year! This event is organized by The Emancipation Committee of Upson; this popular and worthy local event has an unbroken 157-year history since the end of slavery in Upson County in 1865.

William Guilford is credited with organizing the first celebration. Most of what we know about the first event comes from William Guilford himself, in a memorial furnished to the Thomaston Times in 1891 by the Colored Celebration Association (as the committee was then called). Guilford wrote that there were five speakers on May 29, 1866: Thomas S. Sharman, Peter W. Alexander, Jennings Thompson, James W. Greene, and (future Georgia governor) James M. Smith. 

The earliest newspaper account, 1876, tells us that the speaking was held at Benjamin White's Grove. In 1927, The Emancipation Celebration was moved and celebrated to a location that is known as Lincoln Park where it has remained until today.

The traditions of the official program of singing and speeches, the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, the parade through Thomaston and the happy party atmosphere have remained in tack.

ECU image.png

The Committee

The goal of this Committee is to preserve, continue, improve and help in keeping The Emancipation Celebration as one of the oldest celebrations in Georgia, as the day The Emancipation Proclamation reached Upson County (Thomaston) Georgia. Also, to assist other organizations, the youth and to help with the betterment for the improvements in our community.

The Committee


Our Members

Jacolby Caldwell

George Carriker

Mia Collier

Brenda Hobbs

Rose Ivey

Langston Johnson

Shirlene Jordan

Greta King

Mattie King

Kevin Prater

Patricia Reeves

Clara Varner

Doris Walden

Red Frames and Ribbons




Our volunteers are more than volunteers they are the official Delegates of The Emancipation Celebration of Upson.
If you'd like to become an Upson Emancipation delegate simply fill out the form and submit. 

Delegate Duties

  • Become familiar with the vision and mission of Upson Emancipation

  • Be an advocate for Upson Emancipation

  • Promote the vision and mission of Upson Emancipation

  • Promote festival dates and community benefits

  • Attend periodic meetings 

  • Confirm schedule availability and tasks for annual festival dates

Registration Form
Volunteer Areas

Thank you for signing up to volunteer with us!

bottom of page