Longtime Hilton Head native islander Louise Cohen says food and storytelling are at the heart of the Gullah tradition.
"When we come together we celebrate," said Cohen, adding that the tradition of coming together and preparing food in a communal way dates back to the time of slavery.
"...As the song goes, 'May Be the Last Time, I Don't Know,' so when we got together we would celebrate because it really could be for the last time," said Cohen who was getting ready for several activities planned for Hilton Head Island's Gullah Celebration -- now in its 20th year.
Cohen will be among the storytellers and entertainers at the "Taste of Gullah" free community event coming up Saturday Feb. 13 at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina.
As the monthlong celebration's signature event, "Taste of Gullah" is a veritable showcase of all things Gullah from food, music, storytelling, sweetgrass basket making, art and other planned events.
The festival will feature such mouthwatering dishes as Geechee conch stew, barbecue ribs, fried fish, shrimp and grits and gumbo.
In addition to food and storytelling, the event also will include singing by the Voices of El Shaddai and the James Brothers and screenings of the film "Circle Unbroken" with Anita Prather and the Gullah Kinfolk.
Cohen, who said she's "got a lot of stories to tell" will bring some of her favorites to the festival, but said she often gets requests from those who attend and want to hear their favorite.
"There's just something about this language. It stirs up the laughter," she said, remembering a time when it was frowned upon to speak Gullah.
Now, she said, people plan their vacations and their visits to the Lowcountry around the Gullah Celebration.
"They want to experience it and they want to see the Gullah people and hear the Gullah people talk," she said. "What I like about it is having the people come taste our food and just having people come together."
If You Go
"Taste of Gullah" is from noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 13, at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, 14 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head Island.
The festival will feature food, storytelling, music, sweetgrass basket artistry and children's activities.
Food is $12 per plate and beverages such as beer, wine, soda and water also will be available for purchase.
The film "Circle Unbroken" will be shown at noon, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on the second floor of the center and the exhibit "De Aarts Ob We People" -- showing through February -- is in the Walter Greer Gallery at the center.
Tickets for the film are $5 and may be purchased in advance by visiting or calling the box office at (843) 686-3945 x. 100, and will be sold based on availability the day of the event.
For details, visit www.artshhi.com or www.gullahcelebration.com.
Follow reporter Mindy Lucas on Twitter at twitter.com/MindyatIPBG.
- Lucas: Exhibit celebrates Gullah traditions, Feb. 4, 2016