Original Gullah Festival returns for 27th year, moves to Technical College of Lowcountry

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMay 23, 2013 

In this file photo, members of the Yoruba Drummers & Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the 26th annual Gullah Festival of South Carolina Friday evening at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort.


The Original Gullah Festival is returning this weekend for its 27th celebration, and organizers hope a new location, attractions and lower prices will give them room to grow and attract more attendees.

"We just think this is another corner we're turning in our efforts to celebrate our culture and preserve our history and to keep the Gullah history alive," said Charlotte Brown, president of the Gullah Cultural Alliance.

The Gullah Festival will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Technical College of the Lowcountry, 921 Ribaut Road in Beaufort.

It has previously been held at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park downtown.

Sharon Joyce-Millen, festival project director, said she hopes the larger venue will provide the space needed to better educate people about Gullah culture.

Daily events are the Gullah Village, which is representative of "old-time Beaufort" Brown said; a new Children's Village with games and play areas; "Da Pit'cha Sho" movies in Building 22 and "Lest We Forget" educational exhibits, lectures and roundtable discussions in Building 12.

Other events include the opening ceremonies, the Miss Teen Gullah Pageant, music and entertainment and nightly bands.

Additional events are planned throughout Beaufort and Port Royal, including tours, exhibits and shows at churches and art studios.

Brown credits residents who have embraced and promoted Gullah culture through these types of activities for increasing awareness and interest.

"If it had not been for us taking that leap of faith and rejoicing in our Gullah culture, the term might not have become so well known," Brown said.

The festival is also an annual opportunity to bring people together from across the region, she said, and to celebrate history from centuries ago to decades.

"Many, many years ago, when I was a child, Decoration Day wasn't as large as this, but it was unified with people from the surrounding counties all coming together," she said.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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