09 May Here Comes the Gullah Festival – New Format and All
Gullah Festival 2017
Come Home To A Celebration of Reconstruction…The Untold Story
BEAUFORT, S.C. (May 5, 2017) – One of South Carolina’s award-winning events, the annual Original Gullah Festival, returns Memorial Day Weekend, May 26 through 28 to Beaufort’s historic Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
The theme for this year’s festival is, Come Home to A Celebration of Reconstruction…The Untold Story. The three days of festivities feature “Lest We Forget History” seminars, the Gullah Lowcountry Supper, live music, a film festival, African dance and drums, history reenactors, the Robert Smalls Traveling Museum exhibit, the full-stage musical, “Decoration Day,” reconstruction Gullah tours, Gullah African diaspora artists, a jazz concert, “Make-it Take-it” workshops, an “All-White Attire Waterfront Party”, gospel music and a “Silver Slipper Supper Club Dance.”
The festival will also showcase the true story of the newly freed Gullahs, a people determined to persevere out of the bondage of slavery to full citizenship from the ashes of the American Civil War. This profound era of history was birthed on the Sea Islands of Beaufort County, South Carolina. By presidential proclamation on January 12, Beaufort County was designated the Reconstruction Era National Monument of the National Park Service. This month’s 31st annual festival celebrates this honor and the role of a rich Gullah heritage in shaping a remarkable period in American history.
Celebrations begin at 10 a.m. Friday, May 26 with a Gullah village where reenactors share the reconstruction story. There will also be a Gullah marketplace with more than forty craft and food vendors, “Lest We Forget History” seminars, reconstruction Gullah tours, museum exhibits, and a film festival. Mainstage entertainment begins at 1 p.m. Admission is free during the day. Friday’s premier event is the “Reggae R&B All-white Attire Waterfront Party” at 9 p.m. Admission is $30.
The festival continues Saturday, May 27 at 10 a.m. with the drum call, reconstruction Gullah tours, Robert Smalls and Black Inventors Traveling Museum exhibits, film festival and the craft and food vendor’s marketplace. Entertainment includes Gullah Gullah Island Nickelodeon TV stars Ron & Natalie Daise, Dr. Marlena Smalls and the Hallelujah Singers, Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters, neo-soul music, the Wona Womalan West African Drum & Dance Ensemble and the Gullah village. The reconstruction story will also be told through reenactors, singers, dancers and other presenters. The Gen. Robert Smalls family will be honored as the 2017 Gullah Family of the Year during the festival’s official opening ceremony at 12 noon at Waterfront Park. Admission for Saturday’s events is $20 for adults and free for Children 12 and under.
Did you know that Memorial Day – once called Decoration Day – was started on May 1, 1865 by newly freed enslaved Africans? The full-stage musical “Decoration Day…An Old Fashion Memorial Day” is scheduled Saturday, May 27 at 4 p.m. at the historic Tabernacle Baptist Church, 901 Craven Street, which is two blocks from Waterfront Park. It stars award-winning storyteller Aunt Pearlie Sue and her Gullah Kinfolk performers who will go back in time and bring history alive on stage. They plan to share the excitement and joy of freedom through song, dance, food, laughter and tears. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children.
Festival goers are asked to put on their shiny dancing shoes Saturday evening for the “Silver Slipper Supper Club Dance” co-sponsored by Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce and the Beaufort Inn Tabby Place. New to the festival this year, the event features live music by Gwen Yvette & Company and D.J. Topher. Food will be donated and catered by Southern Graces. Tickets are $30 for general admission or $45 for V.I.P. early dinner seating at 8 p.m.
The “Hour of Power” service begins at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 28, at Waterfront Park. The Commemorative Marker Rededication of the African Landing follows at 11 a.m. on 11th Street off of Parris Avenue, in neighboring Port Royal, SC. The Festival resumes 1 p.m. at Beaufort’s Waterfront Park with the Gullah marketplace, Gullah village, reconstruction Gullah tours, the Robert Smalls and black inventors traveling exhibits, praise dancing and the gospel song bird, Mildred Daniels. There will also be an Unknown Soldier Memorial ceremony by the Women’s Relief Corps, a performance by the Beaufort Mass Choir and a concert by the Parris Island Marine Corp Jazz Band. Admission is free to all events on Sunday in honor of those who fought to preserve our freedom.
Organizers of the family-friendly Original Gullah Festival have been sharing the story of the rich and unique Gullah heritage for many years and look forward to welcoming old and new family and friends to beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina by the sea…Queen of the Sea Islands. “Com’ on and jine we fo’ a Gullah good time!”
For tickets and more information, visit www.theoriginalgullahfestival.org.