The Gullah Festival of South Carolina celebrates and recognizes the history, customs, cultures, language and accomplishments of the African Americans of the lowcountry. Festival activities will commence Friday, May 24 and will end Sunday May 26. The Festival will be held at the Technical College of the Lowcountry campus.
For More Information visit www.thegullahfestival.org
Brief History and Origin of The Gullah Festival. In 1986 five women just together for fun began a discussion about the good old days of how the black community would celebrate Decoration Day in our city. Those women were Mrs. Rosalie Pazant, her daughters Charlotte Pazant Brown, Lolita Pazant Harris and Reba Pazant Hunt and a family friend, Marlena McGhee. We threw around several names and finally came up with a name representative of the area. We decided to call our new venture The Gullah Festival. We wanted to make our festival much more than what used to be at ADecoration Day but we wanted to have some of that same old time flavor. We then seriously began planning some of the types of entertainment we would like to have. Once some major decisions were made about the purpose of the festival Mrs. Pazant took the leadership roll in making our dream a reality. The first year of the festival was 1986. We had approximately thirty-five people in attendance. The festival has been in existence for 20 years now and we may have up to as many as 70 thousand people in attendance over the course of a three day period. After the first year, Marlena McGhee a Co-Founder, has moved on to begin her own entertainment group. Another Co-Founder, Lolita Pazant Harris passed in 1989. The three remaining Co-Founders are still working hard with many family and friends to make sure that the dream once started, remains alive. At present, our Board of Directors is the group of individuals which does most of the Aleg work@ and consist of the President, Mrs. Pazant, Secretary, Da-Renne Pazant Westbrook; Treasurer, Inez Mitchell and five Vice Presidents (Mary Dawson, Charlotte Pazant-Brown, Reba D. Pazant, Henry Robinson and Thomas Roy Hicks), each with special duties. The Executive Committee members are those chairpersons who meet each month to assist with festival planning. The volunteers are those dedicated individuals who give of their time for a full weekend to make sure that the festival flows smoothly. We decided that the festival would always be held the weekend before Memorial Day because we did not want to interfere with the annual Memorial Day festivities. Up until this year, the festival has been held at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in the heart of the city of Beaufort, SC. Because of the growth of the festival and the renovations in the park, we will be using other historical sites in the historic district with the main festival activities being held at the northern end of the Beaufort Waterfront Park The festival has received the following recognitions: Winner of the State Award 1990 & 1997 Listed Among Top 20 Events in the Southeast May 1992, 1994, 1998 Awarded Special Citation from SC House of Representatives May 1993 Recognized by the SC Senate in 1997 Recognized in Vision Magazine in 1997 Recognized by the USA Congress in 1997 for an outstanding festival our size Recognized by the American Business Association in 1998 Recognized by the Secretary of State as one of the Top Ten Angels for the state in 2003-04 Winner of the Bundy Award from the South Carolina Parks Recreation and Tourism for best festival our size in the state for 2004