South Carolina Humanities Festival returns to Beaufort

After a 16-year absence, the S.C. Humanities Festival returns to Beaufort in June.

Held in a different city each year, the Humanities Festival spotlights the local history and culture of its host community and often features lectures, exhibits and community-wide events.

Started by the S.C. Humanities Council in 1993, the festival also came to Beaufort in 2000 and has showcased 18 other S.C. towns and cities since its inception.

“Communities are really making an effort to recreate their sense of place through this festival,” said Mayor Billy Keyserling.

Keyserling’s mother, Harriet Keyserling, along with another arts advocate, Betty Ann Mead, were instrumental in bringing the first event to Beaufort more than 20 years ago.

This year’s festival promises to be even more engaging, Billy Keyserling said, and will feature a wide array of events by more than 20 arts and educational organizations throughout the county.

Lectures and presentations will feature everything from Reconstruction to the history of Santa Elena.

Performances such as “The Music and Voices of the Sea Islands” will give residents and visitors a taste of Gullah Geechee culture while tours of such places as Fort Freemont or Fort Mitchel will give participants an indepth look at the sights that have made the Lowcountry culturally significant.

“It gives all the organizations and respective communities a chance to put their best foot forward,” Keyserling said, adding that the festival is geared toward both residents and visitors. “And a chance to really show off what they have."

If You Go

The S.C. Humanities Festival kicks off with an opening night reception from 5:30-7 p.m. June 9, at the University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for the Arts, 801 Carteret St., in Beaufort.

The festival will run through June 11 and will feature nearly 40 separate events at locations throughout Beaufort County.

All events — except for “The Music and Voices of the Sea Islands” concert — are free. The concert is $20.

To attend, participants can pick up an admission button at the opening night reception or at any of the participating events.

For more information, including a downloadable program, visit

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